Talking 101

Recently I came upon some notes I took at a Psychology conference several years ago. Rereading my notes, one especially interesting seminar caught my attention, from the field of Neuropsychology. There is a body of research that supports what our hearts intuitively know, (what girlfriends have been doing/believing for millennia).

People feel better when they:

  1. Talk about their feelings.
  2. Engage in friendly, lively conversation with others with whom they feel safe, and by whom they feel respected.
  3. Verbal and emotional abuse really does cause trauma, in much the same way physical assault does.

Let’s go back to this:

1. Talk

The research shows putting feelings into words activates the part of the brain that suppresses emotional distress. In other words, talking about one’s feelings, or verbally processing one’s experience with another person, tends to uplift a person, enabling them to feel better about their situation.

2. Engagement

Collaborative, congenial conversations help to stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain to develop. If conversation is cheerful and relaxed, this helps to develop the empathy, morality, and communication parts of the brain.

3. Social Rejection

Social rejection (bullying, insults, psychological pain) is registered in the same part of the brain as physical distress. Perhaps our grandparents and Elementary School teachers had it wrong. To rephrase the old adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but mean words really do hurt just as much.”

Talking things out with a good friend, with one’s life partner, or with a Therapist or Counsellor, really can help improve a person’s life. New neural pathways can be laid down, new perspectives gained, new ways of considering an old issue can all be developed.