Ever failed at something and find it hard to shake it off?
Maybe you enrolled in a program and gave up midway because things were overwhelming…
Or committed to trying a new diet and gave up midway because you are not seeing results…
Now, ever shared your feelings with someone and in their attempts to encourage you or make you feel better, they tell you that “you should try harder” or ” you did not want it bad enough?”
Don’t be that person!
“We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” –Diogenes
Let’s talk about how it feels, shall we?
In many cases where I shared with someone something that is haunting me, I have done the self-critic and self-reproach part already and I am not looking to feel worse than I was already feeling. Granted, excuses abound and I can probably find infinite reasons why I cannot reach my goals.
When someone shares a burden, a failure, a shortcoming with you, how about you take a few steps back and find out what the person needs from you?
You could ask, why they shared with you and what they are hoping that you can help them with.
For example, I often share how I am trying really hard to lose weight but the scale won’t budge. I might share with you because I noticed you shared some pounds or you are confident and comfortable in your skin. I might share my thoughts so you can give me tips. When you start off by telling me that I did not want it bad enough, it is hard for me to hear past that. I am also wary of people who are quick to give compliments, it makes me question the authenticity of what is being said.
Here are my suggestions:
Get comfortable with silence
take time to process what is being shared and to check yourself. You might get upset that the person shared things with you especially if it is heavy and you have your own “mess” to deal with. It’s ok to take a few deep breaths and if you need to, let the person know that you heard them and you just need a moment.
Thank the person for being vulnerable:
it is never easy to admit shortcomings, failures or challenges, especially not in this world where everyone is showing their best lives on Social Media. Feel honored that someone shared with you what many try so hard to keep secret.
Sometimes, being honest is saying that you really don’t have a response to what was just shared or that you have a lot going on and you can’t help them. This could also be a great opportunity to redirect them or assist them in seeking the right resource.
Many of us tend to just spill our mess when the opportunity comes it is not until we are done sharing that we realize what we needed. Sometimes we just had to vent and feel heard. Sometimes we need someone to say “I see you, I hear you but get it together.” or sometimes we need someone to say ” I am sorry because what you are dealing with really sucks.”
Not everyone masters their own “how to” guides and in this day of age where we stare at screens more than we look at each other, acts such as giving that person a genuine moment can be priceless… And in cases where you don’t have someone to do listen, you can extend the same kindness to yourself...