"It's Going To Be All Right!"

How many times have we said those words or similar ones to someone who is hurting or in some sort of crisis? How many times have we heard those words?

When someone is hurting, they don't need to hear platitudes such as above. They want to know you understand their pain. Deep down we all know that eventually, "It will be alright!" But, in the midst of pain, sorrow, and/or suffering those words sound hollow and meaningless. I don't want to be told that, "it will be okay." I want someone to reflect back to me that they understand I'm hurting and that it's no fun.

Imagine this conversation:

You: I just found out my best friend has cancer.

Your friend: That's awful! But it's going to be okay. Everything always works out.

Compare that with this:

You: I just found out my best friend has cancer.

Your friend: Oh, that's awful. You must feel so much sorrow and helplessness right now. You probably feel pretty scared, too.

Which resonates how you would really be feeling? The first one sounds almost dismissive. The second one sounds like the person is really listening to you and wants to share your pain. Which conversation makes you feel like you are really being heard?

I see this type of conversation with parents and kids all the time and, believe me, I was guilty on numerous occasions. But don't our kids need to know that we really hear them? And, even if the boo-boo or whatever seems small to us, don't we need to let our kids know that we understand that the boo-boo is big to them?

Another place I see the first conversation way too much is at funerals or other sad occasions. I believe that most people want their listeners to understand they are hurting. They know that eventually it will be okay. Even if it's not, there's probably not much they can do about it. What people want is for someone to hear them and share their sorrow and not reply with platitudes.

So this is a challenge for my readers... In the coming few weeks, when you hear someone saying something about a feeling, reflect that feeling back in a supportive manner. It will feel awkward at first. Our culture is very good at teaching us to move on to the next subject very quickly when it's not a pleasant subject. But watch the other person's reaction when you reflect back to them that you really hear what they are saying. I can almost guarantee that you will sense an inner sigh of relief from your listener. It will be as if their whole being is saying, "They are hearing me. Oh, that feels wonderful." You will probably feel different, too, because you will sense a new way of communicating and understanding that you might have been missing out on.


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