It’s not rocket science; we’ve all heard that it’s good to talk about things, to “talk things out,” not keep things bottled inside… but why is it good?
The word “catharsis” (i.e., talking about tough stuff) is derived from a Greek word which is translated as ‘cleansing’ or ‘purification.’ Most definitions emphasize two essential components of catharsis: 1. The emotional component (strong emotional expression and processing) and the cognitive aspect (insight, new realizations, and the unconscious becoming conscious). As a result of the delicate balance of both, catharsis is believed to result in positive change we refer to as “healing.”
Aristotle defined catharsis as “purging of the spirit of morbid and base ideas or emotions by witnessing the playing out of such emotions or ideas on stage.” Joseph Breuer and Sigmund Freud, both early twentieth century leaders in the field of psychology, described catharsis as an involuntary, instinctive body process, (i.e., crying).
Schultz and Schultz followed the psychodynamic tradition and defined catharsis as “the process of reducing or eliminating a complex by recalling it to conscious awareness and allowing it to be expressed.” While life events and injustices certainly aren’t easy to revisit, the fact is, talking about things, in effect re-experincing them, is widely seen as a pivotal part of the healing process.
More than Catharsis
The benefits of talking about the tough stuff go well beyond personal experience and healing. Well-known author and activist Terri Williams discusses choosing with integrity to talk about difficult truths and injustices. “Choosing with integrity means finding ways to speak up that honor your reality, the reality of others, and your willingness to meet in the center of that large field. It’s hard sometimes.”
This courage, this integrity, and the raw and real beauty that surrounds it, is the inspiration behind Wearable Therapy by Tokii’s one of a kind designs that inspire the sort of discussions that could achieve changing and healing.
Many things that draw out the humanity in us, that reflect the concept of choosing with integrity, aren’t easy. I know first-hand that conversations about basic injustices aren’t always easy.
A purse I was carrying caught the eye of a woman in the grocery store. She asked about it, and within seconds I was providing statistics about human trafficking and how pervasive the problem is in all parts of the world. The woman seemed caught off-guard and may not have wanted to know all she learned about this pervasive injustice, but she now has a conscientiousness about human trafficking she didn’t have before.
At minimum, she may tell her friends, “you’ll never guess what this total stranger told me in the grocery store” – and that friend may have a friend she tells, until the result is an elevated consciousness about a worldwide problem under all our noses, because of one bag worn in a Canadian supermarket. Imagine the collective increase in awareness that can happen when people make the choice to simply speak.
I had another opportunity to talk about an everyday injustice when I wore a shirt out from our anti-bullying line. A woman whose son had been bullied noticed my shirt and approached me. The contact spurred an opportunity to chat for several minutes about the evolution of bullying in the new millennium. We also talked about the increased responsibility we have as parents to plug into our children’s lives today more than ever before. The conversation went on, and both of us had a deeper understanding of the issue for it.
The Nuts and Bolts of Awareness-Raising
Advocacy and awareness-raising of any kind is important. As Tokii’s Wearable Therapy slogan, “Let your style speak for you” implies, the combo of catchy artistic images and meaningful messages will capture others’ attention. But your message won’t always stop at style.
Those who wear pieces from our advocacy collections shouldn’t be surprised when someone’s curiosity piques to the point of asking, “What’s with the shirt?” or “Great bracelet – what’s its significance?” When this happens, it’s important to be armed with a statement that hits at the heart of healing – by normalizing. One of the main reasons victims of any type of injustice feel marginalized is because society doesn’t always present as a soft place to fall during their healing process. In fact, even in the diagnostic world, “overdisclosure” (talking openly about victimization when the relationship may not otherwise warrant such intimate disclosures) can be seen as a negative. On the other hand, the “taboo” nature of abuse and injustice is what charges it with power. One way to remove the power from the taboo is to remove the taboo aspect from something.
Just talking about a serious topic of injustice is a great first step. One in four females is said to have experienced sexual abuse at some time in her life. Startling? Maybe, which makes it all the more important to speak about. If twenty-five percent of women have been sexually victimized in some way, and being a “victim” or “survivor” feels marginalizing, then one in every four of our sisters, friends, mothers, daughters or co-workers is living with a heavy burden.
Similarly, nearly one in three children report being bullied at least one time during the school year. While abuse, bullying and other unjust practices cause large numbers of children and adults a lifetime of hurt and struggle, victims overwhelmingly report feelings of loneliness, shame, and the perception that no one else truly understands. As unjust as abuse and victimization is, others do understand, because unfortunately, these issues are widespread. By doing our part to educate about the widespread nature of injustices and world struggles, we have the opportunity to remove the shame from them.
So when asked about your Tokii fashion, be intentional and brief. You don’t have to talk for hours about injustices to help normalize them. In fact, a brief statement or two about the topic will be enough to break down some of the unspoken walls shrouding these important topics, while piquing interest in others to learn more on their own.
There isn’t a script or perfect formula to follow. Wearing Tokii’s line alone is “choosing with integrity.” But given the opportunity, have a one or two sentence response prepared that gets at the heart of why the issue is important to you. It may seem simple, but doing so, bit by bit, spoken word by spoken word, will help bring that much healing to a world hurting for a lot of different reasons.
If you are interested in spreading awareness about topics that affect millions throughout the world,
check out our Against Abuse Collection: