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The Healing Power of the Witness

In conversations with Diana and Scott about Daring to Share, I will often reflect on the powerful healing role of the audience, and the profound healing in witnessing our stories. In my previous work as a counsellor, the “witness” was a vital role and crucial in the treatment of trauma. When we bear witness, we allow someone else to share the vulnerable places; deep and wounded parts of ourselves. Through support, we can process a painful or traumatic experience and have our story told, witnessed, and honoured with empathy.

Most of us are unconsciously witnessing every day as we listen to our family and friends sharing stories about their lives, the dramas big and small that we cannot repress and force us to reach out to others for support, comfort, and validation. Witnessing occurs through an important social agreement with those we care about. I will hear you. I will listen. I will honour your experience and your pain.

Intriguingly, research indicates it is common for the “witness” to experience their own kind of healing. How often have we connected with someone who is going through an experience similar to our own? This sharing is an opportunity for the witness to process or conclude unresolved emotions or issues, and may well be a karmic process all of us share. Our society is fundamentally based on our stories – our histories and our lessons, art, writing and theatre, news and the norms of our culture, reality television and Facebook posts about life experiences that are meaningful to us. Our media and social media present stories of all kinds that become reminders of our human connectedness through everything frivolous to deep sharing of the social and political challenges we face as a global community. We cannot underestimate our choices or the value of the stories we listen to, and the curiosity and compassion we all can foster as willing witnesses to the existence of suffering in all its human reflections.

In this way Daring to Share is brilliantly alive and contagious in its daily invitation to be our authentic selves and tell our own true stories of being human and vulnerable, and to be willing witnesses to those who have the courage to share their own story. Perhaps we can question our hesitation to reach out to someone who we sense needs support and really listen to others in need. I know from my own experience the healing power of witnessing, being surrounded by others who listened to my stories of personal tragedies and traumas, and offered me the love and support I needed to heal. As an author in Daring to Share Volume One, I knew it would provide a further evolution of my healing process and I wish for my story to make a difference for even one person. As an individual passionate about the Daring to Share Movement, it provided me with a way to make a difference more than I thought possible. What I love is that Daring to Share Global is all-inclusive and invites anyone to join this humanitarian mission for authenticity, intimacy, and human connection.

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