Updated: Mar 26, 2020
If you want to help, listen without judging anyone
God has given us ears so that we can hear sounds and listen to what other people are saying. Hearing sounds is easy but listening to others is tough. When you listen, you have to pay attention to the words uttered. You have to use your brain to understand the meaning of the words. This is why listening to someone is more difficult than hearing him. And, listening to someone without judging him is even more difficult.
When a person is going through a tough time, he feels alone. The loneliness feeling becomes too much at times and the person needs to be comforted. But who will comfort that person and how? This is a very important question and we need to find an honest answer to it.
Imagine you’re sad and feeling lonely? What will you do in this situation? Well, chances are high that you’ll start looking for a person to understand and comfort you. Mark the words ‘understand.’ If you feel that no one will understand you, then there is a greater probability that you will brood all alone. Your anxiety and loneliness feeling will increase with each passing day. And if there is one single guy to listen to your pangs without any judgment, then you’re likely to unleash all your pain to him.
You will feel light and relieved. Your problems may not get solved. But at least, you’ll feel good. Likewise, when someone is sad or suffering from an anxiety disorder, you should also be available for that person. You should also try to comfort that individual but in a proper way.
Now, what is that proper way? Let’s discuss it in detail.
1. Listen to that person without judgment: Even if you’re super busy, listen to what the other person has to say. Listen to his problems without making any adverse comment. Don’t judge his feelings or actions or behavior or attitude. Don’t criticize him. Don’t force your opinion on him.
2. Let him know that you’re there: As a friend, you may feel powerless. You may feel helpless. But sometimes, being there is enough. Let that person know that he has a shoulder to cry on. And, when that person is speaking about his problems, listen with an open mind. Think about his well-being above anything else.
3. Listen with a compassionate heart: You don’t have to be an expert. You just need to have a compassionate heart and an attentive ear. This is what a lonely and depressed person wants.People who are suffering from anxiety disorder feel lonely at times. Anxiety is like that. But most people hesitate to speak about anxiety because of the stigma attached to it. They feel embarrassed to talk about their innermost feelings. When you listen with a compassionate heart, they feel liberated.They feel that a big burden has been lifted from their shoulders. They feel better.
4. Listen and empathize as much as you can: You can’t take the pain from the person. You can’t know what exactly is going in that person’s mind. But you can empathize with him. In most cases, you may feel that what the other person is saying is completely absurd. You tend to evaluate everything from your viewpoint. What you forget is the fact that everyone is different and unique. Everyone’s journey and life are different. It’s not possible to analyze things objectively in the same way.
Try to empathize with the person by putting yourself in his situation. You’ll see that gradually everything is making sense. Suppose, the person is suffering from anxiety due to a toxic relationship with his spouse. His wife misbehaves with him, insults him every day, exploits him financially, and doesn’t provide any kind of emotional support to him. You may feel that this is completely unacceptable, and he should leave her immediately. You may feel even angry with him for not leaving her until now. But you’re making a big mistake here.
You’re not analyzing the entire situation from his perspective. You’re forgetting the fact that he still loves his spouse. He has many good memories with her and he still cherishes them. His wife may not love him but he loves her. This is why he is still putting up with her. You have to also consider another fact. Maybe this person can’t live alone. Maybe he is afraid of loneliness. This is why he is still with her. When you start thinking from his perspective, everything will make sense. You’ll be a better listener.
If you know someone who has anxiety, then you should do 2 things. First, you should listen to him without any preconceived notion. You should first tell yourself that a mental issue doesn’t define anyone. Just like diabetes or blood pressure or cholesterol doesn’t define anyone. You should treat that person just like a normal human being. Secondly, you should take that person to a psychiatrist so that he gets adequate treatment for his emotional well-being. That is all you have to do.