“My toddler said “Mama” today!! Couldn’t have been happier!!” We’re all aware of the excitement parents feel when their mini versions learn and begin to speak. It’s something vital, a survival code, maybe? It definitely is an important developmental milestone that the young one is developing normally. Comforting. Listening to our parents, obeying them or listening to our teachers at school does not account for this kind of learning. The real deal is to be all ears and be an active listener.
What Active Listening Is Like
We all go through our daily lives engaging in many conversations with friends, co-workers, and our family members. But most of the time, we don’t listen as well as we could or sometimes should. Being distracted by other things in the environment, such as the television, the Internet, our mobile phones, or something else, we tend to think that we are listening to the other person, but we’re really not giving them our full attention.
However, a few of us have learnt or were taught good listening skills: the active and disciplined kind of listening that is all about building understanding and trust, one which helps examine and challenge the information we hear in order to improve its quality and quantity, hence, improving our decision making skills and providing clarity in situations.
Be The ‘Hearing Aid’ For Them
Experiencing mental ailments, mostly depression and anxiety, is a haunting feeling, from you against yourself. Unfortunately, when you speak of it in a room full of people, you might hear things like: “No, you’re overthinking”, “Be positive”, or even “You complain too much.”
Mental ailments and suicide rates have been on the rise in this day and age. One of the causes include harbouring the feeling of “emotional invalidation.” Emotional validation is something we all seek and crave far more than we realise. When we are upset, angry, frustrated, disappointed or hurt, our tendency is to want to discuss our feelings with others so we can get it off our chest.
Do You Actively Listen?
It might sound like a minute thing, but it can actually make a BIG difference. Dumping your thoughts and imaginations in front of a person who doesn’t judge you: what counsellors and therapists do; could be all a person needs to defeat depression and suicidal thoughts.
In this era, everyone is so self-indulgent that they would not bother wanting to see, hear or know about what even their closest family member might be going through. Just being there (physically or lending them an ear), is a no-no for them. No second thoughts involved.
The Missing Puzzle Piece They Need
It sounds pretty simple when someone pleads with you to listen to them, but are we really paying attention to them, their words, their actions, their emotions and body language when they talk to us?
Mostly, no. We listen to them, answer them and that is about it, isn’t it? Ever wondered how to fully listen?
Stepping Into Active Listening Zone
I chose to be a counsellor at the age of 15, a time when I was emotionally unstable, if not vulnerable. I needed someone to be there for me. No one knew how I felt and I hated it.
The first year in university was followed by a devastating, disturbing news. A fellow student committed suicide. I was devastated. The “WHY’s” and “WHAT IF’s” got me thinking a lot. I then decided that I would work towards helping my fellow man.
It’s never easy telling someone about your mental health or explaining the heavy feeling in your chest, the lack of motivation you have, the heavy head and whirlwind of sad thoughts circulating in the deep recesses of your head.
Maybe they just need someone to listen to them. Maybe I can help them. And that one day, as it hit me as I sat waiting for the bus from university, I made a pledge to myself. I promised to be a listener, an active listener. I was fortunate enough to be able to carry out my promise !
From my four-year-long counselling period, I realised something deeply and immensely. I remember opening my notepad and writing my first ever quote after my seventh client, “It bothers me how nobody has the patience to deal with someone who is just sad.”
Throughout my counselling sessions, I’ve always heard of these consistent complaints. They include “They won’t listen”, “They don’t know”, or “They won’t/don’t understand”. Why do people find it so difficult to listen to one another? Even after knowing how it could lower their stress to levels one cannot imagine? And it is totally cost-free!
The Active Listeners
Although it is a bit difficult, it is definitely an honour and privilege to be someone’s go-to during their lows. Knowing that you are able to make them feel better, is greater. All one needs to do is to listen to them, be interested, do not interrupt, make them feel important and demonstrate how their troubles or feelings are not invalid. It could be all what their tired mind and ears would be longing to hear.
Emotional Support, 24 Hours – Everyday!
I am so glad how we have now normalised talking off our feelings at psychological centres or going to therapists. Even more proud of the initiatives like “Befrienders” who are always a call away to help anyone who yearns for it.
Distressed, in despair, upset, lonely or having suicidal thoughts and require someone to listen to you? Head over to Befrienders KL or ring them up on their helpline at +603-7956 8145. They’re out there providing emotional support 24/7!
Sidewalk Talk Malaysia, another champion of this day and age, is a non-profit community project, solely dedicated to listen to you! You can read more about them here.
Good going Befrienders Malaysia for your efforts!
This article is part of Espoletta’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives.