- This topic has 6 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 7 years ago by Anonymous.
May 21, 2013 at 8:51 am #35921PeterParticipant
The past couple of weeks have been your typical laundry list of ups and downs related to life, love, work, and play. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, it all culminated this weekend with some of the worst depression and anxiety I’ve experienced in months.
Today, I ran into a close friend and confidant who I haven’t seen in a while and when the opportunity came up to catch-up (despite my mind criticizing me and telling me to “suck it up” and “stop bringing other people down” ) I used that opportunity to share some of my experience and feelings in search of support. Whenever I do, I always expect support to come back in the form of advice or perhaps a list of things I need to do in order to make myself feel better. And you know what, that list never comes! In all the years we’ve known each other, I don’t think this person has ever given me any practical advice. And for that, I’m actually grateful. Do you know why?
Because what I do get from this person is validation, compassion, and pure empathy;
“That makes perfect sense. Of course you’re feeling that way…”, “You have every right to feel that way…”, “You have worked so hard and you’re doing really well…”, “I know it’s difficult, but you’re doing the right thing…”, “I’m really proud of you…”,
It’s amazing what an effect this type of reaction can have on your psyche. Already, I feel a hundred times better than I did before. I know I’m not perfect, I still make mistakes, and I still have a lot of growth and learning to do to become the person I want to become, but it’s really this kind of support that motivates me to move forward and dig deeper on this journey of self-discovery and self-actualization.
So I wanted to share these thoughts and feelings with this community and say, if you’re on this website, if you’re reading these postings, if you participate either actively or even passively in this forum, you’re doing really well. You’re taking the time you need for yourself and reaching out in whatever way feels right at the moment and you need to be congratulated. I know the whole world is suffering in some capacity or another, but those of us who are branching out into this new territory of self-awareness deserve a round of applause.
Congratulations and keep going! 🙂
P.S. The topic title is a quote that needs to be attributed to Sir Winston Churchill.May 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm #35992AnonymousInactive
Thank you for this! I completely agree – the validation and empathy is what a human needs to heal and go on. Most people actually KNOW what to do – it is finding the strength and belief in themselves to do it. I hope more people read this and follow in your friends footsteps. The advice is coming from someone who just wants to fix it for us. But the support, empathy, validation gives us the strength to fix it for ourselves.May 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm #36017SimonParticipant
I agree. Knowing that I can vent to my friends is amazing. Even if they just say “Hang in there, I believe in you”, it makes me feel a million times better.May 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm #36023KumoParticipant
Is it really true that venting to your friends and receiving validation, compassion, and empathy from them is better than receive advice on how to fix it? I’ve strongly thought that the advice is more practical and would help you find progress, rather than just feel better from what is most likely just temporary support. Perhaps I’ve had it backwards? Or perhaps it only becomes a problem when you constantly rely on that validation and support without believing in yourself and finding that inner strength?May 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm #36025SimonParticipant
Well, it works for me. It might not work for everyone. Sometimes, my friends cannot offer any practical advice. Of course they offer it if they have it, but sometimes they can’t relate to my situation, so they just let me know that they are there for me.May 23, 2013 at 7:27 am #36033PeterParticipant
I agree with Simon. It’s not a question of either or, but rather how do you do learn to do both and know when to do which one.
I myself have been described as “Mr. Fix It” who always wants to jump into help others solve their problems. It’s the only model of emotional support I know, but I’m appreciating and recognizing when others demonstrate a different way of providing support by simply “being there”. I’m learning to appreciate that kind of support and would like to incorporate more that into my way of being.
I don’t mean to bring a religious spin to this, but I think these sentiments are echoed in the Serenity Prayer.
Accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Find courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and have the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.May 23, 2013 at 8:44 am #36034AnonymousInactive
I think it depends on the person and what they are looking for. But I feel that unless someone says “tell me what to do”, they are just looking for understanding – for someone simply to listen. People run to therapists and forums like this, generally looking for understanding and to be heard. Often people know what to do, but emotions get in the way of logical thinking. If they can vent the emotions, they can see the solution more clearly. Listening costs nothing yet is worth so very much. And telling someone what to do can often make them feel like their emotions don’t matter, and that their problems and concerns are being minimized or “swept under the rug.”
I once had a friend say “is there anything I can do for you?” I responded “you just did it.” The offer of the support was all I needed. Knowing that they were there, just in case, gave me enough strength to continue looking for my own answers.