When I ask you to listen to me and you start by giving advice, you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin by telling me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen! All I ask is that you listen, not talk or do – just hear me.
Advice is cheap; twenty-five cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself. I’m not helpless,
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you can contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and you can get on to the business of understanding what’s behind my irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings can make sense when we understand what’s behind them.
So please listen and just hear me. And, if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn, and I’ll listen to you.
by Dr. Ray Houghton
from Stepping Stones to Grief Recovery