I love to refer people to the things that have helped me. I often catch myself wanting to fix things others tell me about. Someone says to me, “My back is really hurting me today.” I say, “Oh, I know a great chiropractor! She’s right down the road!”
I’ve caught myself saying to someone who’s facing something uncomfortable, “Try to stay positive… Be grateful for all you have.” Recently, what I’ve been hearing others say to me is, “Oh, don’t worry. It’ll all work out. It always does.”
Why is it that when we listen to someone who’s going thru a difficult time, we immediately chime in with our suggestion or advice or perspective or with what worked for us? It is assumed that we’re being helpful, that the suggestion could work for them, that we know the answer. I want to acknowledge how beautiful it is that pretty much everyone has the desire to be helpful and likes to be acknowledged for their contribution. All of us love to hear, “Thank you! I feel so much better!”
In reality, we aren’t being supportive of what they are experiencing right in that moment. We aren’t helping. We might actually be invalidating what the person is feeling.
Needing To Be Heard
Lately, I’ve been going thru a very tough time. EVERY single aspect of my life – financial, home, health, personal, professional – is in upheaval at the moment. If I share that I’m going thru a hard time, I immediately get the advice to look at how far I’ve come. Some may remind me of how strong I am and that I can overcome even the worst of things, some remind me of how supported I’ve been in the past, some may say that there’s a lesson here that could be a springboard to what’s next, some may tell me something that’s meant to make me smile. But the reality is that I’m not happy. My feelings aren’t going to evaporate by anything they say or do. Jumping into the past to compare it to the now and forecasting into the future is not always helpful.
What I’m wanting to hear is, “I’m sorry you’re going thru such a hard time. I’m here if you need me.” Or “Wow, that sounds really intense. How are you doing?” Or “I can only imagine how much that sucks.” That is in the NOW. You’re with me, you see me, you hear me, you acknowledge me in what I’m experiencing right here.
By the way, this is not only a great way to be supportive of fellow adults, it’s also a fantastic way to work thru a child’s emotional upset – just be with the child, get to their eye level and listen; tell them you hear them. (http://www.handinhandparenting.org/). I wish every parent knew how valuable this was in raising a child.
Somewhere along the way, many years ago, I learned that I need to be happy or positive so that others aren’t bothered by my emotions. I learned that showing any uncomfortable or ‘negative’ emotion, like being angry or sad or scared or lonely, isn’t an acceptable way to be. And thus, I experienced the pain of rejection and judgement and I often shut down. I learned that I’ll be accepted and liked/loved when I’m agreeable and fun and sweet and polite and nice and happy. Sure, the opposite – being out in the world moping or dragging your feet – may not be all that great for long. But when you feel something other than happy, you shouldn’t need to fake how you’re feeling or hide away in a cave until you’re in an acceptable emotion again.
Did I Say Something “Wrong”?
I know someone out there will find fault in this blog. So I naturally try to think up the possible unwanted reactions and cover my ass. For this one: I can see that this is about me, that I put the pressure on myself to change to be what others want of me. I can only change me. This might come off as me trying to change the world (and in a way, it is) rather than me adapting to the world or growing myself to see that I can be whoever I want and say ‘oh well’ to what others think or expect.
I need to learn to ask for what I need. Before I say even a word about what I’m going thru, I need to be brave enough to request: “Don’t try to fix it. I just need to you to hear me and see me and be with me in my discomfort.” But I haven’t learned to consistently do that yet. Until then, I just get angered because I am not getting what I need… and I default to isolating myself.
No More Adapting
I tire of fixing myself. I don’t want to CHANGE WHO I AM so that you’ll be comfortable around me! I’m sick of having to fix myself and be different so that I can get the response I that I am yearning for. I’m unconsciously editing and filtering what I say and who I am quite regularly, even in this writing. Enough. I’m tired of bending and morphing myself to fit into how people want me to be, memorizing new ways to be in the world so that I can get what I want and need.
Naturally Creative, Resourceful and Whole
The foundation of my Life Coach training was that every client, from the get-go, is naturally creative, resourceful and whole. They have the answers within them. Whatever they are going thru, we, as Life Coach, are there merely to support them thru the excavating of those answers.
Why can’t all of society see every single person in the whole wide world as naturally creative, resourceful and whole … just as they are right now in this moment? And trust that they will find their way or they’ll ask for help. Why can’t we all look the troubled person in the eye and just hear them and be with them where they are right in that moment? Let’s try it.