On the night of the shootings in Christchurch, I was watching the news when my brother video-called me. He asked if I was ok and I started to cry. He didn’t say anything else, just held the space for me to be sad. His focused presence touched my heart.
My brother often gives me a hard time for cheering people up. He tells me that it invalidates the feelings of the person expressing them. So when he held that space for me to cry and to be sad, I finally understood what he meant.
I’ve started to observe this in conversations. A person might share something that is upsetting and it’s amazing how quick we are to jump in and share our ideas/shared experience/advice. If I glance back at the person, I sometimes notice a new sadness reflected in their eyes. They now have to field all the ideas and solutions that have been fired at them, yet remain unheard themselves.
My brother’s says that we need to let people talk without them having to deal with us.
Instead of adding our thoughts to theirs, we can encourage them to keep speaking by saying things like “tell me more” and “what else”.
It’s easy to think we are helping when we offer advice or different perspectives but mostly we are just getting in the way.
For this fixer-upperer – this doesn’t come naturally but I want to let people talk without having to deal with ME … so please tell more …