When I started my psychotherapy practice in 1987, I hung a poster titled “Please Listen to Me” on my group room wall. Even though it is no longer on the wall, I think of the content often. I believe it contains important information for everyone, but might be especially helpful to those of you who are participating in this week’s Challenge for Growth prompt.
Please Listen to Me
When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice, you have not done what I 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 problems, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
All I ask is that you listen. Not talk or do, just hear me. Advice is cheap: 50 cents will get you both Dorothy Dix and Dr Spock in the same newspaper. And I can do for myself I’m not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself you contribute to my fear and weakness. But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I quit trying to convince you and can get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice. So, please listen and just hear me, and if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn; and I’ll listen to you.