Everyone has a deep, embedded need to be understood. It’s one thing we all have in common no matter what age or demographic we come from. When we are understood, we feel like we belong – and belonging is powerful. Belonging creates resilience. It gives us a safe landing pad to take off from to dream and live life to the fullest.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When we are not understood, we become the worst versions of ourselves. We have to fight to feel we have a place in this world. This is where we pick up armour to guard ourselves. The more misunderstood we feel, the greater our fortification of our heart. Heart wounds happen when the positive beliefs we want to have about ourselves is conflicted with negative labels and beliefs others try to impose on us.

When someone steps out in courage to tell their story and is met with attuned listeners who seek to understand their story, it changes the game. It is life changing for both the storyteller and the listener.

One of our National Hope Talk speakers, Adam Gilfillan from Ottawa shares about the power of story. He shares openly about how he was always expected to be the “funny guy”. It was hard for him to share when he was struggling because everyone expected him to be the happy one. When he shares this story, you see heads nod. You see how many relate to the idea of not being able to share their true feelings because of the expectations of others. You can almost hear the sigh of everyone in the room saying, “Me too…”

In this moment when attunement or a “me too” moment is reached, scientists call this “Interpersonal Neurbiology”. Brains are being rewired. This is so powerful because a person could have come in the room with anxious wiring in their brain, but now leave with courageous confident wiring – just by being listened to and listening, being surrounded by safe community and feeling understood.

Those who attended our Bell Let’s Talk HOPE conference in Calgary came up with 4 actionable items for solutions to mental health this year:
Prevention
Connection
More mental health supports for workplace and school
Better mental health help for those in crisis

Providing safe spaces for people to tell their story is a wonderful way to add to the solution to prevention and connection! And it’s easy! You don’t even need a degree in psychology to do it. It only requires bringing people together and allowing people to share their story.

Have a story you want to share? I love hearing people’s stories! Have ways you are creating safe spaces for people to share their stories? I would love to hear about that too! Email us at nationalhopetalks@gmail.com