Saturday, September 11, 2010

We Validate

One of the tricks of being Junior Counselor to the Free World is not telling people how they should feel.  I think that should be a trick of all counselors really but since I don't have access to them and the only person I can totally control is myself, (at times, when I'm not being completely irrational about something and consequently forgetting every common sensical thing I know to be true) the only thing I can do when a friend spills their guts is to listen.  And not say, "You shouldn't feel that way."  Because saying that to someone is so amazingly selfish I makes me glare and grit my teeth to bite back barbed words.

People have their own reasons for feeling the way they do about things.  If you don't know the backstory then I'm pretty sure you should reserve comment.  Or pay enough attention to their delivery of the information at hand so you can follow their lead and see how the rest of the conversation plays out.  That is if you ever want them to tell you anything again ever.

For example: Someone mentions she got a job.  She doesn't seem happy about it.  It is not your place to say, "You should be happy!" because you don't know that the only reason she's going back to work is because her husband keeps getting fired up and down the Eastern United States and the deal was that she was going to stay home and raise the kids but now she can't do that because he's blown through all her savings and he doesn't have any prospects and they can't wait around for him to land something gotta eat.  So she has to not only take care of all the household stuff because he is largely oblivious about the workings of a home but now she also has to go out and be the breadwinner because he is largely oblivious to the workings of the corporate world as well it would seem. And she's not feeling especially warm and fuzzy about her future.

But you don't know that.  All you know is that Job = Happy!  Yay!  And you should be quiet.  Or just say congratulations or way to go or something.  But for the love of everything, don't sit there and tell someone how they should feel.

A good Junior Counselor to the Free World, or any other kind of counselor or friend in my opinion, should ask third level questions.  Like, "You don't seem thrilled about that.  Do you mind if I ask why?"  And then they can tell you or not and then you'll know.  And you can certainly try to help them reframe their thinking about the subject at hand but only if you know how to do that.  Third Party stories are helpful here.  The ones where you had a friend who went through something similar and how that person dealt with it and it all worked out just fine and stuff. 

But if you can't separate yourself from the subject at hand and all you have to offer is some loudmouth, oppositional, knee jerk reaction about what you did or what you would do if that were you then seriously just keep it to yourself.  Because this is not about you and whatever fairytale bullshit you've created in your head, okay?  This is about someone else and if you can't get some perspective then please zip it.  You're not being helpful.  I know you think you are but you're really not.  Nothing personal, just want you to stop talking is all.

And this applies to pretty much any situation whether it is a thing broken or made whole, it doesn't matter.  This applies to any time when the person you're talking with isn't having the "appropriate" reaction to their circumstance and you, Deemer of All That Should Be, take issue.  You want to identify.  I get that.  Me too.  But sometimes you can't.  You're out of your depth.  It's alright.  Let it go.

Junior Counselor to the Free World says:
Feel what you feel.  There is no right and wrong here.  These feelings are there for a reason.  Lets find out what the reason is and deal with that part.

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