I have been thinking about people and humanity lately. About how much we listen or don’t listen to each other. About how much we focus on questions we want to ask and focus so little on the answers we receive or if the questions are even wanted at all.
You see, I have been getting the same advice over and over again from a person I love very dearly, even though I have asked them to stop. I know this person means well. They want nothing but good things for me. Still, it is trying on my patience, my feelings, and my mental health for my words to not be heeded, as the advice is not practical.
It pains me to think that it’s more important to them to get their point across as opposed to remembering how much I don’t want to hear it, even if this is done subconsciously.
How often have we all done things of this nature? How often have we hurt people without meaning to?
Some thoughts occurred to me. As someone who has been on both the giving and receiving end of these, I know from experience these thoughts are important:
- Instead of asking why single people you know aren’t dating, ask them how their job is, how their family is, how school is, etc. Try picking a topic they won’t be as sensitive about. Besides, asking why a single person is still single kind of implies that it’s wrong for them to be alone. It isn’t. They might be struggling to find the one, yes, but they might also be single by choice.
- Instead of asking couples when they will have a baby or asking parents when they will have the next child, ask how they’ve been and mean it. Let them answer. Remember that becoming a parent is a big deal. Not all people or couples want to be parents. Not all parents want more children than they have. And some of these people want children desperately but cannot have them for one reason or another. It is a painful subject best avoided unless brought up by them.
- In the case of new parents, offer more help than advice. While advice is often appreciated, help with chores, meals, baby-sitting, even diaper duty, can do far more to bolster the parents’ moods and ease their anxieties.
- And please, if you know they are struggling, especially if depression or similar is involved, please don’t start on the stories of “Oh, my kids never did that!” or “We never went through that!” when told about their daily battles. Comparing your “perfect” parenting with theirs is a HUGE no-no. It can also make a depressed person feel even worse. Remember, you never know who is suicidal. Thoughtless words can push someone over the edge.
- Instead of comparing or announcing in so many words your possible lack of empathy, listen. That’s it. Listen. Listen to them when they need someone to talk to. Listen to what they don’t say as well. Making someone feel heard can do a world of good, most likely in more ways than others could ever imagine.
- Above all, think before you speak. No matter the topic. Be respectful of other people’s feelings. Be conscious of the issues they are sensitive about. Be there for someone as you would want them there for you.