Listen

Listen

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Listen
by Beyonce

Listen to the song here in my heart
A melody I start but can’t complete

Listen to the sound from deep within
It’s only beginning to find release

Oh, the time has come for my dreams to be heard
They will not be pushed aside and turned
Into your own
All ’cause you won’t listen

Listen
I am alone at a crossroads
I’m not at home in my own home
And I’ve tried and tried
To say what’s on my mind
You should have known

Oh, now I’m done believing you
You don’t know what I’m feeling
I’m more than what you made of me
I followed the voice you gave to me
But now I gotta find my own

I recently had a client share some insight into her anxiety in session that had me shook. It relates to this song in a special way. I started hearing the song in my head as we spoke…

The context was that in a previous session we had adapted a bell-curve I learned about in a training by the Renfrew Center. The bell curve depicts the course of anxiety as it rises and peaks and then goes back down. The theory is that if we are too afraid to face our anxiety at the top of that bell-curve we often find an escape behavior to cope. For example we may over-eat, yell at our partner, or otherwise hurt a relationship or hurt ourselves in an attempt to avoid sitting with a peak emotional experience.

In the session where I introduced the bell-curve, we came up with an exercise: 1, draw the bell-curve and at the peak, write the emotions you are afraid to feel or the experiences you are afraid to face. 2, closer to the peak of the bell-curve, write your escapes, the things you do to avoid facing these feelings and experiences. The exercise was illuminating for her, and the many clients I have used it with since.

So what does this exercise have to do with listening? And why did her insight shake me to the point of hearing music? Well, she realized that one of the peak experiences that she sometimes avoids is LISTENING. And of course the escapes are to not listen or to jump to conclusions.

It may be important to note that this client is not a bad listener. In fact, I would say she is a great listener. Her brilliant point, however, emphasized that even when we are pretty good at listening, sometimes deeply listening is a challenge. In the following weeks she challenged herself to listen to her partner carefully, past the things he said that triggered her anxiety, in order to really hear him. And when she really heard him, her anxiety met the other side of the bell-curve and went down.

We are all likely to face many triggers during the quarantine and both the session and this song help illuminate the psychological opportunities that flow from our work to notice the trigger without handing ourselves over to the anxiety.

My client’s insightful revelation had me listening to this song in a whole new way, but not completely far off from what seems to the theme of the song: setting yourself free from a force that is trying to control you. Not only can you sing this song to a controlling partner, you can sing this to your own anxiety, and set yourself free.

Spencer Northey

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