How I feel is the most personal thing I can think of. How you feel is the most personal thing I can think of. We are guided by our feelings, so this makes our feelings incredibly important to the unfolding of our lives and what kind of experience we are going to have. How often have you come to someone who you hold dear, to express something important on your heart, then to bearing your soul, but to feel in the end minimized by a quick remark or to be told how you should feel instead? “You should just think positively” or “You should do this…”
Most offer what they do in these very personal soul-bearing situations not to harm but to help. I do not mean to criticize those who offer alternative perspectives or suggestions, after all I am doing that now. I simply want to remind myself and others who may lend an ear to anyone in pain or who may be struggling. To deeply listen more than you speak.
The truth is, most don’t need solutions for their pain, we all just need understanding when we struggle. We need to feel like we are not alone in our suffering. We need to find a path through the mire of life in our own way. We need to feel loved and supported. We all need these things at various times in our lives.
In these situations, I usually come to the table of understanding like this: “I do not know all that you have been through. I am not you. I have not walked in your shoes for even a minute, so how you feel is important even if I do not understand or agree.”
I know life’s pain and I know what it feels like to want relief. And I know the best relief in pain is to know I am not alone in it.
For those who are the comforters, the supporters, the people who love to give I remind you how important your job really is. How one word can mean so much and can also hurt so deeply. Intentions aside, your value is in your loving presence but not your suggestions. Advice, helpful words and actions are wonderful but only when the one who suffers feels solidarity with you. When the wounded feels safe then your suggestions can be transforming. But in all other situations they can be like daggers to the heart.
So I offer an attentive ear. I offer supporting affirmations. I offer togetherness. I offer unconditional love. All I know in these situations is that another fellow spirit is in pain, and that isn’t who they are! And I will remind them of just exactly who they are. You are love. You are joy. You are always so very good always.
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