Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How we can become better at caring for others June 26, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Perhaps we could learn something from owls, who have a superb sense of hearing. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Perhaps we could learn something from owls, who have a superb sense of hearing. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

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:

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/07/opinion/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407

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.

(H/T Hope Center Facebook page)

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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12 Responses to “How we can become better at caring for others”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    YES!!!! Note exclamation marks. I know many people who somehow manage to always turn things around to themselves and this article is a perfect way to describe how we should be reacting to situations. I especially liked the ending that said to not worry—you will have your own time in the center ring. 🙂 Not sure that I need or want that but it made me smile and think it was the perfect way to end the article.

  2. One lesson I have learned is some times you have to ask how can I help instead of waiting for the person to ask for help. Obviously you have to tread lightly and it depends on the situation too. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing.

    I read somewhere recently that saying anything beyond “I’m sorry” is a persons way of trying to make their self feel better. Less is more!

  4. Valerie Says:

    I thought the article was very good and gives an easy yet useful tool to try. We’ve all experienced someone taking the spotlight even when they are not the person with the “issue.” I try hard to keep the focus on others. Thanks for sharing the article.

  5. —-Wonderful post.
    I’m reading Option B at the moment and it’s changing my life.
    I am LOooooooVING Sheryl Sandberg so MUCH & considering stalking her. Just kidding.
    She said this….Ask the person what they want. JUST ask them, “How can I help you? How can I make you feel better?”
    Do not, I repeat from my own experience. DO NOT ignore their pain.
    Audrey, I just love you & how you reach out to others.
    xx From Duluth.

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    I think these concerns about how we treat others and being able to sense when help or comfort is needed, should be part of some curriculum in school. Clearly, we have moved away from compassionate and kindness to an every man for himself kind of existence. I see it mostly with the elderly, and the very young. If it is not being taught at home and nurtured, then it is the responsibility of the community to see that change is made. There are so many hurting people out there… this is a great post, Audrey.


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