June 30, 2022•378 words
It is hard to find someone to listen to. First of, everyone around us is incredibly busy working and hustling. When we finally get somebody to lean on and try to express our feelings, it turns into a contest of who’s suffering or feelings matter the most.
My parents used to do that a lot. I remember this incident where once an uncle who moved in to the opposite house started speaking to my dad and they started exchanging stories. The uncle was open about his past and he told my dad “If you hear the stories from my past…oh! I can’t believe I’ve been through all that” and my dad’s response was “If you hear my stories of struggle, you’ll hang yourself. Such horrible past.” The uncle was shocked.
When I asked him about this in my early twenties, their reply was “talking about our struggles will help them feel better about their problems”.
This assumption is universal. A lot of us assume that talking about our struggles as a response to someone who’s sad would make them feel better. Not always. Emotional etiquette is an important skill for everyone. Knowing when to use our feelings or struggles as an example is the key to becoming a good friend/partner, or a kind stranger.
When someone comes to you and wants to talk about the loss of a job or a breakup or loss of a loved one, the best thing to do is listen. We can use our trauma or struggle to tell the other person that we know what its like. This will establish the fact that you’ve been there, but you made it to the top. It will also tell them you’ve moved on or learnt to live with it. That will give them the confidence to look at the brighter side. If you continue to talk about your struggles, it will depress both you and the other person.
Use your personal experience to tell the other person that they’ve come to the right place. It is an indication that you’ve been there and you know what its like. It should be 10% of the conversation. The rest should be about them. Listen, listen, and listen. The world needs more listeners. More than you think.