Listening is not easy but it is essential.
This week I had 3 people share with me very personal things because they thought I would listen to them. I did listen to them and hopefully helped them a little bit. I am not saying this to brag but simply to state that one of the easiest ways we can help others is simply to listen.
All of these people had very difficult situations in their lives. They were facing health challenges and other challenges that threatened their very lives. After they shared with me I asked if they were looking for advice or just venting. They said they were venting, and one said both. The advice I gave to one who wanted it said that I was wise and I suggested self-care. It is not easy to do when you are used to taking care of others.
Conversations about the most meaningful things in life are not easy. It really takes an effort to try to imagine that other person’s point of view and to empathize with them. Yet the rewards are enormous for all involved. The person who vented feels validated, you the listener gets to learn and appreciate the reality of other people’s lives. Often I feel so grateful for how well my own life is going.
I imagine back when we were cavemen listening was critical to our survival. We told the others in the tribe about the dangerous bear roaming the forest that we encountered. Those who didn’t listen died. Now the same thing is true. People who don’t want to listen to science die from Covid and everything that could be prevented. You can’t protect people from their own stubbornness and stupidity.
Each day I have people reach out to me, strangers often who want to share and talk about something that is bothering them. I am not a doctor nor try to be, but being kind and friendly invites these conversations.