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When you need Someone to Listen

Since becoming a parent the journey has been what I can only describe as a roller coaster. 
There are many many highs, but the dips can come out of no where!

You try with all your might to give it your all and most days you can do just that! You're content that the job you're doing is a pretty good one. Life is full of laughter and smiles. Could it get any better?! Then BAM a stinker of a day comes along from no where and often all you need is an understanding ear and a shoulder.

Over the last 5 years my personal journey as a parent has been an interesting one. Most of the time our days are fabulous, yet some days I honestly don't know how we get through them. But we do..

It's in these dips, we can sometimes approach others for some support. The reactions of others have the power to make or break the situation. Do they listen or do they respond? Big difference between the two. The responder is a complete arse hole who will never take on board what you are saying because they are too busy thinking about their own experiences. Their own views. Me, me, me, me, me. Their response is unhelpful and not supportive.
The listeners are the people who are open. They never judge. They dont take every opportunity to turn things around to be about them. They take time to listen and support you. Just be being there and listening alone, they bring you comfort. You feel understood.

Lets take a look at some examples:

1 - The Situation
You - "I just don't understand! I'm doing everything I can yet he still isn't sleeping more than 2 hours in the night, I am so exhausted."

The Responder - "Can you imagine how I felt doing it with 3 under 4?"
Evaluation of the Responder
Completely irrelevant and belittling to the person crying out for help. Yes you can appreciate it wouldn't have been easy but in a round about way all that's being said is 'get a grip, what you're going through is nothing. I had it much worse than you'. The responder is totally missing the point because they are too preoccupied with their own lives and their past experiences.

The Listener - "Why don't I come round and have him for a while so you can catch up on some sleep? It's hard, very hard and it's ok to take time out to care for you. In fact I wont take no for an answer! Besides it means I get to spend some time with little one and I will love that. Makes us both winners".
Evaluation of the Listener
They get it. They totally get it. They're on my team. They want to help me. I feel supported. I don't feel alone anymore.

2 - The Situation
You - "I can't remember the last time I had any me time"

The Responder - "Well I haven't had alone time in 15 years so believe me when I say - you have many more years to come yet with no more me time".
Evaluation of the Responder
Again very unhelpful. Has very quickly turned the situation around to be about them. They haven't taken on board what you have said, and instead have painted an ugly picture and made you feel like you craving for alone time is ridiculous! If they've managed 15 years, come on girlfriend get your act together!

The Listener - "It's so so hard! It's not easy having no time to zone out and have some alone time. I'm free tomorrow how about if I take little one for a walk, give you a couple of hours?"
Evaluation of the Listener
Nothing but support. They understand how hard the situation is and respect your feelings. They know its difficult and want to help you. They offer to ease the situation and that alone brings comfort!

3 - The Situation
You - "It's been such a hard day today! I just want to cry!"

The Responder - "You think its bad now, wait until they are the age of my kids! That's when its tough!"
Evaluation of the Responder
(Sticks up fingers) - Erm hello, I'm having a bad day over here!
Completely wrapped up in their own lives. If anyone deserves any pitty around here its ME!
They refuse to acknowledge feelings. They have completely lost touch with their past struggles when their children were younger. Because they are no longer in them days, they still wish to play 'poor old me'. Not helpful. Not supportive.

The Listener - They give you a hug, put the kettle on and invite you to take a seat "Tell me about your day".
Evaluation of the Listener
They care. They want to know about your day and offloading to them will help get it all off your chest. You feel like you can open up with them and no judgement will be past. They are there to listen and take on board the struggles you've faces because they care!

When somebody reaches out to you for whatever reason. Whether they are struggling with a situation unfolding around them, a stinking tough day with the children, a disagreement at work perhaps - take time to listen. 

Sometimes people just need someone to be there. They need to hear 'wow this is so difficult for you'. 'No wonder you are feeling so drained', 'you're doing so well, I can see how hard this is'. 
Take a moment and reply with understanding. 

Sometimes we don't need advice we just need someone to listen. The amount of times I have approached people after a stressful day with the twins and tried to offload how I feel and I am met with unhelpful remarks. It leaves me feeling deflated and sometimes agitated.

I know exactly who I can talk to about things. I know who to avoid like the plague.
Sometimes people will never change, but in life we need to think of how we feel. We need to appreciate how others make us feel, and know who we can turn to when we need it most.

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