No longer as truthful as should be deserved, some names, places and events deliberately vague to protect identities that aren't mine

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Please, listen

I discovered the below poem in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul back when I was a moody teenager, and I continuously come back to it, for how it plainly points the importance of simply listening to the other person's feelings, views, opinions etc, and truly acknowledging the impact they have on that individual before jumping in with your own assessment

I always remember it in concern with the basic premise laid out in the popsci book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  Men when faced with a problem go off into their mancave and sit by themselves and think about it and maybe smash some things and then think more until they've solved it.  And if they truly can't solve it, they will find another man and tell him the problem, and they are expecting him to provide solutions.  Women on the other hand are group focused.  They gather together and talk not about the problem itself, but about all the things around and related to the problem, and in doing so they build up a web of understanding about the problem that allows them to see the solution.  Massively overgeneralizing sure, but like all rules of thumb, it applies good enough on a broad rough basis.  Sometimes you need a friend to help provide solutions.  Sometimes you just need a sympathetic ear.  Both routes have merit.  The world would be a lot easier if we often prefaced talks with our friends with what kind of responses we were looking for from them.

And of course my mental health issues acutely remind me, that what is manageable and tolerable for one person may be very different from another.  We all experience stressors very differently and very subjectively to ourselves alone.  So often saying "oh you shouldn't think like that or some variety" is in fact very unhelpful and counterproductive.

I've tried at various occasions today to talk about things and feelings I keep very hidden and quiet about.  These conversations didn't appear any different to others in terms of tone or anything - quite purposefully, I don't wish to take time to properly consider the seriousness of what I'm finally admitting at the time.  But each time I was quickly shot down.  In jest usually.  A defence mechanism of the person I was talking to.  They deflect and deflect repeatedly in quick succession.  Leaving me emotionally winded having just built up the courage to say it in the first place.  Being ridiculed, or having my thoughts waved away as insignificant massively damages that confidence and I clam up from revealing anything for a good few hours and usually end up rather defensively angry as well, which causes its own set of issues as it comes across as if I have disproportionately reacted to a normal conversation.  Its hard, and the best I can manage right now is occasionally trying to discuss something else difficult instead at a later point.  But I'm losing my confidence a lot at the moment.


When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get
you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and

But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince
you and get about this business
of understanding what’s behind
this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are
obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes,
for some people – because God is mute,
and he doesn’t give advice or try
to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work
it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn – and I will listen to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment