Good Morning Friends,
I hope you all are having a relaxing day. This morning my fingers are burning with a rant that I need to get out of my system. So I ask for your patience and understanding in this post. Recently, I’ve had several personal encounters where I’ve seen people want to talk with me, only to not know how to “hold space” or actively listen at all! It all begins innocent enough. They ask me how I’m doing or feeling. As a person who practices compassionate communication in my everyday life, I admit that I’m used to being around active listeners. If you want to know my feelings and connect with me, great! I welcome you into my mind. But once you’re there, I humbly ask that you simply listen and meet me with compassion.
This is where most people trip up, and why I’m writing this post.
This morning I want to discuss how to actively listen… or at least act like you give a f***. This will spare many hurt feelings and keep things smooth all around.
I. Don’t Ask If You Really Don’t Want to Know:
I’ll be honest, I don’t really understand the mindset of many people today. People move through the world with a cutthroat mentality. They believe that if whatever problem is out there doesn’t apply to them, then why should they care. This same mentality was applied during 1939-1945 in the Holocaust. But just as Martin Niemoller wrote in his poem “First They Came”, so too can we apply the same principals to today’s society. Someone’s problem may not be your problem, but you can extend compassion and understanding to the individual. You can choose to be kind. Which leads me to my first tip: don’t ask someone to open up their feelings if you really don’t want to know. When someone is baring their feelings to you, listen. Really listen. Tune everything out and simply listen. Deep down, you may not care. But actively listening to them is a form of compassion. It’s giving the person a moment to see that one human being in this vast, wide world cares enough to hear the burdens on their heart. And that, my friends, is truly a gift.
II. Respond with Kindness When Someone is Opening Up to You:
This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen people become narcissistic at the worst possible times. When someone is really opening up to you be there for them. Give them gentle reassurance. Use phrases such as: “thank you for opening up to me” or “you’re not alone in this. I’m here for you” to let the person know that you care. You don’t have to agree with what they’re saying, but do try and be compassionate and understanding. When someone is pouring out their emotions, they are in a state of vulnerability. The words you say can have a much deeper impact than you intended. Choose to be kind. Choose to be mindful of what you say because it can have a lasting impact.
III. If You Really Don’t Care, Act Like You Do:
The last point I’d like to mention is for everyone out there who comes across a situation where a person has opened up to you, but deep down…. you just don’t care! You’re not heartless, but you have other things to worry about. You don’t want to be burdened with the feelings of another. So, what do you do in that situation? Act like you care. Yes, paint a smile on your face. Type gentle words of compassion back. Trust me, the person will get your message loud and clear, and likely move on to open up to someone else. But the greatest gift we can give to another human being is love. And if you can’t give love to someone, at least remain kind.
Side note: If you’re talking to someone with a mental health issue, please oh please don’t question why they feel the way they do. My friends, I have met so many people with various mental illnesses in my life, and not one of them wants to feel the way they do. It’s just a part of their battle. Be understanding that they are facing issues that you might never encounter, but your compassion and support can turn their day right around.
IV. Final Thoughts:
Life can get lonely sometimes. People face traumas that are truly unimaginable. We all walk around with scars, pain, voids, etc. that shape who we are. While society may act cold and distant, I like to believe that if we all put down our devices and began talking to each other… that we would find out that we’re not so different after all. Make a friend with a stranger. Extend kindness to someone new. We really do all need someone, and YOU can make a difference to another person. It may sound cheesy, but you can choose to make a difference in someone else’s life. We’re in this life together, friends, so let’s make the most of it.
Thank you for reading this post and my innermost thoughts. You’re awesome, and I feel blessed to have you here. Have a beautiful day. 🙂