“Not being heard is no reason for silence.”
– Victor Hugo
When was the last time someone was sharing their opinion with you and you were actually listening?
I am not talking about two-way conversations like the ones we are used to in our everyday lives; I am talking about a conversation where they were sharing something really personal with you and you were listening in order to understand why it meant so much to them. You were not trying to take part in the conversation through replies or any commentary to the topic.
I am talking about the type of conversations we have with people who need to get something off their chest. The type of conversation where all that is required from us is to just listen and understand and feel what the other person is going through. The type of conversation where we usually try to be the hero of the situation, so we start interrupting the other person and start sharing our own views and thoughts on the problem at hand. We find it easier to just convert the entire subject into a science or political debate. Whether we are conscious of such behaviour or not, it remains a toxic, destructive and belittling behaviour. Not everyone reacts the same way to the same situation, for there are never two people who are faced with the exact same situation under the exact same circumstances.
“Too many people value what they are not and undervalue what they really are.”
– Malcolm Forbes
At the end of the day, it was never about you or me. It was about him or her: they were the ones who wanted – even needed – to talk, to share something, to just explode and let it all out. They needed to be heard because the weight is too heavy for them to carry on their own. They are calling out for an extra arm, an extra leg, an extra shoulder to help them with whatever it is that they are carrying within. They are crying out for help. The simple kind: ears that listens, a heart that understands and arms big enough to hug them.
How many times have we failed to do so?
How many times have we actually added water to the pool they were drowning in?
How many times have we made them feel like they are not worth our time?
After experiencing such a reaction from us, it should not surprise us when these people no longer ask for our help. When these people build up walls and hide within them in order not to bother anyone with their problems.
Last week was a rather important week in my opinion. In the United States, last week is known as National Suicide Prevention Week. It is not uncommon that certain people start to have suicidal thoughts when they have been left out a couple of times, whether socially or emotionally. When it comes to dealing with emotions, people are often afraid of what is dark and would prefer to avoid such topics and not think about them at all. Sadly, there are certain people who already have these sad and dark thoughts in their minds. What should we do in that case?
Suicide is not a coward’s action. Treating people badly and ignoring their needs and calls for help is. Even when we try to help, we need to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We need to listen to the other, make them feel heard, and then act on that. Nobody wants to die; they just want to be found.