I have to admit, I’m one of those people that wants to solve all the world’s problems AND if you have a problem I’m right there with all the advice I can muster up. I want everyone to be happy and smiling and be free of pain and suffering. Yup, that’s all I want.
Unfortunately, not everyone wants you to solve their problems. Sometimes they just want to:
- dump their troubles
- vent their anger or frustration
- scream about who pissed them off and
Can I solve that for you?
I have a really hard time being a sounding board. Actually I kinda suck at it. If you tell me all your problems be prepared for me to solve every last one of them for you. If that’s not what you want, don’t tell me your problems. (I’m kidding, really)
I am trying really hard to just be a good listener and learning how to keep my mouth shut. I struggle though. My first initial reaction is to hand out advice. My bigger problem, however, is that if you don’t listen to my advice and shrug me off then I get frustrated. “Why won’t you listen to me? I’m trying to help you!!”
It was only just recently a friend of mine said “You know Iva, sometimes people just need to talk and don’t really need or want advice”. You have to learn to say “Oh I’m sorry you are going through that. Yes I understand your pain. I’m sorry” That’s it, that’s all. And just shut up and nod.
I have to do what? Shut up?
Phew, that was really hard for me to grasp. Do what? Just nod and say I’m sorry for your pain? Not solve your problem?? Good grief. Okie. I’ll give it a try.
And I did it. And it was super hard for me to do. And a part of me was frustrated that I couldn’t help you solve all your problems but a bigger part of me was just happy that I could be there for you. I’m glad I was able to be there when you needed to vent. That made me happy. And it was worth it.
If you’re like me, an “Iwannasaveyouandsolvealltheworld’sproblems” kind of person then you know exactly what I’m talking about and how hard it can be to just sit, nod and say “Awe I’m sorry”. The rewards of doing that, however, far outweigh the alternative, which is to be frustrated beyond belief after talking for over an hour solving problems that don’t really need your fixing.
Not every one wants to be fixed by you or anyone else for that matter. They just need an ear. When you can be that ear, you are more valuable than you think. Oftentimes, when we open our mouth to give advice old boring cliches come out that no one wants to hear. Trust me on this one. They’ve heard them all a million times. If someone is coming to you just to dump, know that they trust you, respect you and feel comfortable enough with you to do so.
Honestly, I get it now
You know, it donned on me recently, that I too don’t want advice when I’m venting or crying. Sometimes I do but I’ll ask the person I am talking to “what do you think I should do?” at which point they will. But more often than not, I just need a friend to lick my wound with me, rub my back and say “I’m so sorry you are going through this”.
I get it now. There’s a time to solve problems and a time to shut up. It’ll take me a while to figure out the difference but in the meantime I’ll keep practicing.
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