My son came running into the house, knee in hand, tears running down his face, but hardly a sound coming out of his mouth until one blood-curdling scream finally emerged.
Looking to see if he was actually ok, I saw-nothing. There wasn’t a scrape on him!
I waited for him to regain his voice and then asked, “What happened, Buddy?”
Blubbering out the details (in which he’d apparently fallen and scraped his knee due to wearing too-big-for-him shoes), he came closer and I hugged him.
While hugging, I imagined all the phrases I used to saw when my children came to try to receive comfort from my PRE-healed self. You see,
I often dismissed my children’s pain, their frustrations, thier hurts. I’d tell them things like, “Oh, you’re fine. There’s nothing even there!” or “Just go back outside.”
I was unwilling (unable?) to acknowledge their pain because I was judging it with my lens which told me they were just fine (no blood!) and, honestly, they were just a little in my way at the moment.
Looking at this precious child’s knee now, I knew what many other parents probably know instinctively–it doesn’t matter if it LOOKS like it’s wounded, it FEELS wounded–and acknowledging that is all it takes for my son to feel loved. Comforted. Significant.
The same is true for all of our relationships. It doesn’t matter the value we put on someone else’s hurt, what matters is that to them, their hurt is very real.
If you can relate to this struggle, I offer you a few practical phrases you can begin to use today to help you become a better listener; a better connector.
~ “I can imagine that is really painful.”
~ “You’re making total sense.”
~ “I wish you didn’t have to go through that.”
~ “I’m on your side.”
~ “I see. What I hear you saying is…” (and summarize back to them what they told you.)
~ “What I admire most about what you’re doing is…”
~ “Tell me more about that.”
Choose one of these phrases today and put them into practice. See what happens!