Listening

I think it’s a misconception that people who have a mental illness or have experience with mental illness are going to be great at talking to others with mental illness. I’m sure there are those that are but I know that I am pretty shit at it. I think it’s because we are all so different in the way we think and react to things, that you can never tell whether what you say will be received well or not. Some people respond to comforting words, some react better to a tougher approach etc. I think the key is to keep in mind that we never really know what someone is going through, regardless of whether or not we have experienced something similar ourselves and instead aim to listen more than talk. I generally take unsolicited advice quite badly because in my mind I am the expert when it comes to the things I need. So I never give advice unless it is asked for explicitly by the person I’m speaking to. There is always a fear of saying the wrong thing but if instead you listen closely and actively, you’re less likely to make mistakes. I think what is truly important is to acknowledge the person in front of you. Acknowledging and validating a person’s feelings increases the connection between you both and creates a sense of wellbeing in the person you are speaking to.
My point is that you don’t have to know exactly what to say to somebody having difficulty, so don’t let a lack of skill or knowledge prevent you from being there for someone. The listening ear is a far simpler and fail safe thing to provide

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