SHHH! Just Listen!

Listening is a great skill to have in order to be an understanding supporter. Looking back at my own mental health history, I rarely had anyone just stop and listen to me when I needed to get things out. I always had people wanting to give me advice and tell me what to do to get through the rough spots in my life, but I never really had someone just listen to what I had to say without saying a word back before I had a chance to explain everything in detail to them (including my frustrations).

I’ve never been great at asking for help when I needed it because usually I’m the person trying to help others with their problems –  that’s why I’m a peer support specialist! But asking for help and/or giving it is different than just listening to someone when they need an ear.

Someone once gave me a quote I remember dearly:
“We were given two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as hard as talking.”

In my opinion, this quote should be posted inside our hearts as friends, parents, mentors, sponsors, mothers, daughters, sons, etc. Think before you react; listen before you speak; and be effective as a listener.

Effectiveness happens when you interpret and understand BOTH the message that’s being said and the way it’s being intended. If someone needs a listening ear, make sure and just LISTEN. It helps release the other person’s tension dramatically to have someone as a supporter who won’t judge them without hearing all the facts before lending their hearts.

Mary Beth Evans, NLCMHA Recovery Coordinator and CPSS