Wednesday; December 27
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who made an outlandish comment? Maybe you were discussing their relationship with their parents and they said, “I hope I never have to see them again!” or the conversation was about their depressed state and they blurted out, “Maybe it would be best if I were just dead.”. When this happens our first reaction is a strong desire to be somewhere else at that moment, but our most probable response is to say something like, “How can you say that? That is dumb! You don’t really mean it!” While our comments are meant to logically assess the statements that were made, that may not be what that person needs to hear at that moment. When this happens there are a few things in play – first, the person is most likely not operating from a logical perspective and secondly, they feel safe enough with us to make these statements. They are reacting to their intense emotional state and ignoring rational thought and, interestingly, for whatever reason, they trust us to open a door for us to help them. Before we go any further, please understand that if someone is in such an emotional crisis that they even appear to be a danger to themselves and others we should immediately seek professional help, but if they are safe, there are a couple of things we can do to help:
First, we can listen. People may use “shock” techniques to highlight their hurt. Irrational statements can be emotional hyperboles to demonstrate a need (and desire) for assistance. If they feel like they could handle it on their own, they would probably keep it to themselves so, often, exaggerated statements are pleas for help. Second, we can support. On occasions people need us to listen with our hearts, not our minds. They want someone to “feel” with them rather than to “think” for them. When they make outlandish statements one appropriate responses is, “Are you looking for help or just someone to listen?”. Their answer will determine our next action.
Thank you for all you do to help the people around you. We all need someone sometime … when we do, brotherly love and compassion are often the best medicine.
Think About It!