Self Care During The Holiday Season: The Art of Listening

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"Listening is being able to be changed by the other person." ~Alan Alda

Dealing with grief and the effects of it on my life has taught me many lessons. One of the greatest ones has been to listen more, talk less.

It's so easy to judge someone from your own experiences when they are confiding in you. One of my best friends reminded me of that this morning. We look at the situation from our own perspectives and how we would deal with it, not taking into account that not everyone deals with things in the same way. And we never know the full story; only what is told to us.

Our initial reactions is usually to start talking, offer advice and try to "fix" the problem. We mean well but honestly, ask yourself, have I really listened to the other person? Did they ask me for advice? Or did they just want to be heard?

Most times, it's the latter.

Trust me, when someone wants help, they will ask for it. But many times, many of us make the assumption that if someone confides in us, they want our help. And that is not a correct assumption nine times out of ten.

For me, I yearn to be heard, especially now. I am far from perfect but know my shortcomings. I know where I need to be better and I know what I need to do. But I also yearn to be able to confide in someone and just be heard. Emotions are not easy to keep contained because the weight of them can sometimes be overwhelming. This is why letting go and talking about them feels so amazing. It makes our spirits lighter and it feels good to talk some things out loud and gain more clarity outside of our emotions.

However, this is where you learn the hard way that you can't confide in everyone. And you also have to understand that people are human. Not everyone is a listener. Everyone plays a role in your life and not all are meant to be those who you can confide in.

This holiday season will be a tough one for my family and I since it will be the first one without my niece Teรก. For me, I will be completely honest and admit that I struggle but I also take it one day at a time. So for me to be able to lean on those I know I can confide in without them trying to "fix" me is such a welcomed thing. 

To be able to talk to someone who doesn't judge you and just listens and offers support is something that is invaluable. With the holiday season being tough for many, having someone to talk to is key. 

I am also still in therapy, four years later and I am not ashamed to admit that publicly. Seeking professional help is one of the best things you can do for your self care. There is nothing wrong with doing so either. My therapist has saved my life. She has helped with me becoming more self aware and becoming a better person. She offers me the space to talk and not be judged. And she makes sense of things that I don't. It helps tremendously to be able to speak freely and have someone get it.

You don't have to understand what someone is going through to know the right thing to say. There is never the right thing to say. But we all have the capacity to love and support someone unconditionally without inserting yourself into the situation. It's not about what you would do but instead how can you help. 

Most of the time, that help is just listening to the other person and supporting them.

If you're feeling down or depressed this holiday season, just know you are not alone. And again, there's nothing wrong with seeking help and someone professional to talk to. Here's some ways to reach out if you are in need...

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Their network of crisis centers provide emotional support and guidance to people in distress and are also available via a chat service and a special hotline number for the hearing impaired: 1-800-799-4889.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s behavioral health treatment services locator is an easy and anonymous way to locate treatment facilities and other resources, such as support groups and counselors, to treat and manage depression.

You can also call your health insurance provider and ask for some therapists in your area that accept your insurance. No insurance? Head to Google to see what groups and centers are in your area that can offer low-cost counseling or group meetings.

I, for one, will be listening more this holiday season and holding space for those who need it, as I know others are doing the same for me. I know I am not alone.

Be kind to yourself and always remember that self care matters. Love you all.

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