The Recovering Farmer

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Who Really Gets It

 I saw a tweet recently where Michael Landsberg, a well-known sportscaster who speaks openly about his own journey with depression, suggested that if someone hasn’t had serious depression, they have no idea what it is like. To me that makes sense. But how can we then help those who are struggling if we haven’t experienced anything similar?

Over the years I have heard some horror stories of people who did reach out for support only to be kneecapped. The farmer who invited his pastor over and was told that the reason he was struggling was because he wasn’t working hard enough. Or the sexual abuse survivor who sought pastoral care and he lamented that they were having a difficult time understanding why women took sexual assault so seriously. Or the farmer who went to see a psychologist and the psychologist said he should go on medication because he couldn’t afford the psychologist. And the friend who went to see a counselor and was told that he needed to get past the fact that he had had cancer, after all it had gone into remission.

When I hear these stories I not only cringe, I find myself getting angry. Is that really where we are at? Not only minimizing but literally telling others that there is no reason for their struggles. Surely there is more to offer those that are struggling.

What happens when someone wants to talk to me? How do I react? Do I know how to listen? Do I respond in such a way that the other person comes away from the conversation feeling better? It has been said that the best communicators listen more than they talk. Boy, do I have a lot to learn.

Dr. Ralph Roughten has written some good thoughts on listening. Let me share a few of his them.

“When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice you have not done what I have asked.”

“When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are  trampling on my feelings.”

“When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem you have failed me, strange as that may seem.”

“Listen! All I asked was that you listen – not talk or do. Just hear me.”

I get it. As humans it is in us to try to come up with answers. When someone confides in us, we feel the need to have the best advice possible. But that is seldom what others are looking for when they seek to unload their burdens.

I know there are times when I just don’t get it. Someone talks to me about an issue and because of my lack of experience or lack of training I find it difficult to understand. But there should be nothing standing in my way to share the other’s feeling, to help carry the load.

A further thought from Dr. Roughten says it best..

“But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling.”

So simple yet so difficult. Listen more, understand more, love more. Make it a good one.

P.S. As I was writing this the Kyle Beach and Chicago Blackhawks situation came to light. For those who need a better understanding of the impact of others not hearing or believing your story please watch the interview between Kyle and Rick Westhead on TSN.

No comments:

Post a Comment