Two ears… and one mouth…

Letter from 2012-11-17

Lately, I’ve really been on the subject of interpersonal relationships. I really think that it’s important because one of the biggest problems in the world today is that fact that we have to deal with each other. Why call it a problem? Primarily, because, it isn’t something that we can avoid. If we could avoid dealing with each other, then we’d have an entirely different set of issues. Millions of people forced to deal with each other, each with their own way of thinking and behaving, each with a different goal (or lack thereof), each with their own desires, each with their own problems and way of handling them… Wow, what a mess!

Someone once told me that there is soo much more to me than what I allow people to experience and that my not sharing the whole me was a disservice to people and myself. I kind of shrugged it off and gave my traditional answer of… “Why should I share more? People don’t appreciate the part that they get.” This answer came from years of hurt and disappointment and a lifetime of painful experiences with people. The part that I missed was the disservice to myself. Let’s face it. We ALL live behind a veil and only a select few, special people ever get to see what’s on the other side. Here’s an example…

Generally, when greeting people, I say, “Hello. How are you?”. The response is… “Hi, I’m fine. How are you?”. Now, my response has been… “It is today”. My question to you is… what does “It is today” have to do with how I’m feeling? 99.99% of people never ask that most important question. The truth is people don’t listen. We have been trained and programmed like a computer with automated responses.

I met a young lady recently and went thru the traditional greeting. But, I will never forget her response. She asked me… “Do you really want to know how I’m doing or is this just small talk?” Well, how dare she go against the programming!!! I told her that I really wanted to know. She began to tell me, this stranger who she just met 3 minutes ago, about how she just broke up with her same sex partner, about how her friends have been telling her that she should have done it long ago, about how she misses talking, texting and emailing her ‘boo’, and about how this other woman didn’t really bring anything to the table… WOW!!!! I’m blown away. She doesn’t know me yet she just broke down in front of me. The key here is that I didn’t interject my own views of same sex relationships. I didn’t agree, or disagree, with her friends. I didn’t handhold her about missing the communication. I let her talk. I listened. And the end result was… She ended with the other woman “brings nothing to the table”. She came to her own conclusion/resolution. Sometimes we just need to work it out, out loud.

Here’s a different example…

PersonOne asks about why have you been feeling sad lately? PersonTwo says that money is funny, isolation issues, lost loved ones, etc. However, PersonOne responds with this… “well judging by your actions everything seems to be okay because people who are depressed don’t act that way. By the way, I’m sad too.” This then leads into why PersonOne is sad then into… “I noticed that you didn’t mention God or your spouse”. There are a multitude of issues with this conversation. One, being the comparison of PersonTwo’s actions with other people who are depressed. Secondly, does PersonOne need counseling? If you’re trying to help, then why are you adding yourself to the comparisons? And finally, the original question was why are you sad. My spouse and God aren’t making me sad… actually YOU are making me sad!!!

So often we feel that we can, and need, to fix someone else’s problems. Our intentions are honorable. But many times our methods suck. If you have already formed a judgment as to what the problem is; you’ve already played out the conversation in your mind; and you’ve already provided the solution BEFORE ever talking to the person then you are NOT helping. You’re baiting the person with loaded questions and you’re leading the person with suggestions that will fit the direction that YOU want to go. You’re not listening. You’re just waiting for your turn to speak. IT’S NOT GENUINE!!! IT’S NOT REAL!!!!

I admire those that work in the mental health field because they fulfill what the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 “…study to be quiet…”

So, in closing, let’s allow more people behind the veil. You’d be amazed at what will happen when you share the real you. And remember, people need you to listen to them twice as much as they need to hear from you. That’s why God gave you two ears… and one mouth…

I’m sorry that this note went long.

I love you ALL
Stay Blessed,

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