THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. How often have you thought that and wanted to tell someone:
This is not about your challenge or difficulty. This is about me, what I’m dealing with right now.
Me. See, the person you’re looking at, the person standing right in front of you, the person emailing you, the person calling you, the person you think you’re trying to help. But you’re not. You’ve shifted the focus to yourself. You.
This is not about you, your personal experience projected onto mine or the impact of my situation on you. This is about me. While I empathize that you, too, have dealt with your share of difficulties, now is not the time to talk about them. I don’t need that kind of “help.” I just need you to listen, to hold the unsolicited advice, to encourage, to simply be there. I don’t need to hear your story.
Because I strive for kindness, I usually hold those thoughts inside.
I’m not a self-centered person. In my life, I strive to be compassionate and caring. Like everyone, though, I fail at times.
But I am convinced that, with some effort, all of us can become better at caring for one another. And that begins with listening. I direct you to one of the best articles I’ve read on the topic:
It comes from a 2013 op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times by Susan Silk, a clinical psychologist, and by Barry Goldman, an arbitrator, mediator and author. Titled “How not to say the wrong thing,” this article is a must-read for everyone. It may change the way you approach family and friends who are dealing with health issues, challenges, difficulties. The authors emphasize listening, really listening, and focusing not on yourself but rather the individual in need.
Please read the article and then share your thoughts.
TELL ME: How do you help friends, family and others through difficulties in life? How have you been helped? Let’s learn from one another.
FYI: Please note that my thoughts here come not only from personal experiences, but also from my observations of others. So when I use the words “I” and “me,” I’m referencing more than myself. I am grateful for the many genuinely loving and caring people in my life who truly know how to listen.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling