Sometimes there is no substitute for simply listening. You know there is nothing you can possibly do beyond that. Beyond a hug. Beyond being a sounding board. And sometimes, that’s all a person needs.
Take Sam, for instance. She’s had a terrible year personally, with loss, and then the frustration of supporting someone who continually sucks the energy from her with bad decision-making. She’s had setbacks at work, and while she struggles to keep her head above the water, her little dog gets sick. One more stick can break the camel’s back. Sam tries to be strong, but cracks in her facade are starting to show. Sam is strong, but she is also imperfect, and needs to know that being imperfect is perfectly ok.
Allowing someone to feel heard is often a gift that gives inertia. Most often, a person knows what needs to happen, but talking through the pain, the problem, gives the person a sense of confirmation that they are able to step out on what they know they need to do, and indeed, they not only are able, but they are more powerful than they could imagine.
Sometimes feeling heard is a gift that gives reinforcement. Like a flower whose stem is bent from the wind can still bloom when supported by another flower alongside it, two fragile beings can create strength together. Listening can create a splint that allows a person time to heal, and encouragement that there are others nearby who can hold them up.
Feeling heard allows space, and grace. The one who needs to feel heard often has her foot to the floor, even when on cruise control. You know how that is? Bursts of speed even when you’re going consistently above the speed limit? Listening can turn off the cruise mode, and let someone coast long enough to take a breath again. Simply exhaling the negative creates room for something positive to enter.
Sam’s going to be ok, no matter what the outcome, because she’s been heard. She knows she has support, and she’s not afraid to seek it out. I don’t worry about Sam; I worry about those who don’t seek it out. I’ve been there and know it doesn’t work; it can’t work, long-term.
DAY 143 HOMEWORK: Needing to feel heard? Thinking you can do it on your own? Don’t do it. Seek out the sounding board you need today.