October 8th, 2014
I was listening to this Bjork song earlier. Bobbing my head along. Imagining I was back on stage swinging my hair all around. Being all angsty and rock n rolly on stage.
Which is basically saying “I can’t listen to you complaining anymore…I’m DONE!”
I smiled. And giggled. Because I’ve had this feeling many many times in my life.
Like, imagine that you’re sitting there helping a friend through something. And they keep talking about it, but not wanting to do anything about it.
It’s like the same story over and over again. And when you give them (really awesome amazing) advice that you know will help them they don’t take it. And not only that, sometimes they get all mad at you and say things like “are you trying to coach me right now?” And then they leave. And a week later they come back and say the same things over and over again. Same problems.
And you’re all like “Ughhhhhhhhhhh!”
And this is where it gets personal, right? Like “Dude…I TOLD you what you could do to make it better” and “It’s kinda like what I do for a living…helping people through these problems.”
And yet, they still don’t want to hear it.
Bjork’s song made me giggle because at times, I’ve felt like wanting to say that. Like saying “FINE…if you don’t want my help then stop talking to me about it!”
And then I felt like a jerk. Because I know deep down, that isn’t how I REALLY feel, or how I want to look at life. Or my loved ones. And that it’s a bit selfish. But what I have done is thought of some ways to change my perspective on it.
You can’t make them ready to hear things they aren’t ready to hear. You can’t make them stop having problems (and more than that you can’t fix their problems) and you can’t make them stop talking to you about it.
You can’t really do anything other than be different about how YOU are in those moments of talking to them.
And so I came up with four things to try that might help you handle things in a helpful and nice way when you instead want to be an a-hole about it:
I know…it sounds simple and kind of counterintuitive but what I’ve found is that people most of the time just want to be heard. They rarely want to be fixed, even if there is a very simple solution to whatever their problems are.
This video is a PERFECT and hilarious display of this.
I have a friend who was going through a really tough time. She told me that she didn’t want anyone to offer any solutions, but rather she would prefer some acknowledgement on how shitty things were. Once I did that, we got on to talking about Dexter or our favorite new tea.
When people feel acknowledged, seen and heard, they don’t need to continue rambling on.
2) Show them love in the way they like to receive love
So often, we approach people with the way WE like to give love, rather than the way they need to receive it. So for example, let’s say that you are someone who likes to offer solutions to problems as a form of “love”, but the person you’re talking to feels loved when you give them hugs.
Try to find out the ways in which they feel loved and then give that to them.
When I’m upset, I like to just cry it out and have another person listen and acknowledge, so that tends to be how I approach my friends. But I have a friend who needs personal touch (hugs, hand holding) to feel heard and loved.
It’s not my go-to move, but I know when I talk to her that that’s what she needs from me. So I do that.
If you don’t know what your friends need from you, just ask! A good way to do that is to say: “How do you feel loved?” or “What are some things I can do right now that make you feel loved and heard?”
3) Ask them what they need from you
So often, we assume what people need. That in talking, we assume they want fixing. Or maybe we assume they want commiserating. Or we assume they want us to be angry with them. But a lot of the time, what we assume people want from us isn’t exactly what they want. And furthermore, if we give them what they don’t want, it can shut them down.
If you notice this might be happening with a loved one, you can also say, “hey…what do you need from me right now?”
That allows them to state their needs in a non-threatening way and it allows you to stop guessing.
4) Be honest
Ok…so if you’ve tried one through three and they are STILL going on and on about whatever thing, it is ok to opt out of the conversation.
This happened to me before and it was simultaneously the coolest and scariest interaction I ever had with my friend.
We had been hanging out for a couple hours and she was talking about a particular problem. I listened and tried to be there for her, but after about an hour and a half, I was exhausted. It was Friday and I had spent the entire week helping and coaching people and I just didn’t have the capacity to listen to it anymore. That was the truth for me.
I needed my friend and I needed her to be there with me and just be silly and have fun.
So I said “No…just no. I can’t listen anymore. It’s the end of my week, we’ve been talking about this for over an hour. Can we just hang out?”
It wasn’t the most tactful request of my life but it was honest. It’s what came out. And we actually both just burst out in laughter after I said it.
She agreed, that we didn’t need to keep talking about it. We became closer in that moment, and both got what we needed.
You may choose different words but the point being that it’s ok to state your needs as well. Conversations are a two-way street. You both will have wants and needs and desires and it’s ok to state yours.
One of my favorite quotes is from Tim Ferriss about conversations. Something like “your success in life is directly proportional to your willingness to have difficult conversations.” I’d change this up in this situation a little to be “…your willingness to speak the truth.”
So there you have it. The four ways to be a good friend when you otherwise want to be an a-hole. And really, what I believe this is speaking to is the bigger “spiritual” lesson of compassion, both for yourself and others.
It’s easy to just be reactive in life. To be unhappy with a situation and internalize it and feel resentful. But it can also be just as easy to be “cause” in your relationship. Not just an innocent bystander who gets swept up in whatever is happening around them.
You can change the way you’re being about things to make them work better for you and at the same time being there for your loved ones.
And this is where the spiritual lessons meet the road. Where you get to walk your talk. Where you get to practice all those things you learn on the Pinterest pins.
It’s easy to learn stuff but we don’t always integrate it into our lives. That’s one thing I love about the Wildheart Revolution. It’s the place to actually PRACTICE all the stuff you learn everyday. If you’re not already on the list, make sure you put your name below to be the first to know when the doors to enrollment swing open.
Which out of these resonated the most? What do you do when you’re so tapped out from being there for everyone? Got any good tips? I would LOVE to hear from you. Leave your thoughts, tips and tricks in the comments below.