Monday, May 2, 2016

Tough Love: Listen if You Want to Be Listened To

Ran into a caregiver last week who had what—unfortunately—is the standard story; all of a sudden the responsibility is on him and his family, stress, “what do we do?!” coming up with answers a bit at the time, calling friends to ask what they’ve done to deal with the challenge.
He said, “I immediately realized how many of my friends are in the same situation. In the past when they talked about it I never heard what they said. It was just them. Now that we’re in the middle of it I’m hanging on every word of advice.”
The key part of his comment is the understanding that not only is he not the first and only caregiver, he has lots of friends in his circle who are in the same situation and can offer support.
Here’s what I see: So many caregivers isolate themselves from support. It’s out there if you look for it. But, you have to be supportive of them, too. I see lots of caregivers who, once they get someone to listen, will wear the listener OUT with tales of woe. They don’t have anyone who will listen to their issues and once they find a target…well…it’s time for the listener to pack a lunch. 
If you want to just lay out all your problems you need to find a shrink or a priest. if you have a friend who will listen understand that they are gold…and be sure you listen when they are talking. The attitude of, “Yeah, yeah, I hear ya, but your problems are not as big as mine,” won’t get you listeners, friends and supporters for very long. 
Listen if you want to be listened to.
Everyone has battles they are fighting. Theirs might be different from yours, but they are no less important.

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