There are four things I want to talk about in this long but interesting article - 4 words that stikes me most: THERAPY, EMPATHY, LISTENING, and PURPOSE.
THERAPY. I am not a pro in counselling, but I get what Livingstone is saying about helping yourself in your struggle by sharing a part of it to someone who shares his troubles with you esp when you are going through what he is going through. I find myself being more effective in comforting someone when I can feel what she is feeling and if I am going through the same ordeal as hers. I guess it's just easier to assess and contextualize an issue when I myself am able to project her position.
EMPATHY. It's a word I have been using frequently. As my sphere of influence widens, I hear more and more stories that are similar to past experiences. In turn, I get to have a gist of their emotions. I empathize bec I know I have been there where they are currently at and I have one or two prayers of encouragements for them. It helps them and helps me at the same time. I who refreshes others am myself refreshed. But when I cannot empathize, I try my best (though at times my best is weak) to sympathize. But I dont force myself in comforting someone I do not know how to help. I just pray for them. But this empathy thing is getting more serious in my system. I guess one factor why is because when I need someone to hear me out, I look closely if she does empathize with me. For when I sense she isn't I draw back.
LISTENING. I like what I see in Livingstone's story about how he listened to Abe, and when he spoke to him about his own story or part to tell. Yes there is a connection bec there is this same struggle. And I like what he said about being careful in sharing his part to Abe lest the focus turns to him. I was once a victim of an extremely bad listener and many times a victim of bad ones. I still feel like different whenever I recall in my mind what happened when I was 24. I got accepted in a dream job in Canadian Embassy while already working in a mainstream school. I waited for that important call for 4 months. It was such a heartbreaking situation for me bec it was a matter of conscience vs desire/dream. And I confided to the worst person. She was the Christian teacher and so I thought she was the right one to talk to. I was not finished with my story yet when she started to cry and said "Wala yan sa pinagdadaanan ko" and she ended up telling me some crap stories which I figured are made-up ones. So she took the limelight and I being in the dark fell in a darker place. I felt the worst feelings - hate towards her, anger, frustration, abhorrence etc. She made me feel worse.
Some other bad listeners on the other hand would peak at their phones from time to time and would end up commenting on unnecessary things. Some would be distracted with what they see from the surroundings and would end up starting a new topic, thus leaving me not pouring my heart out, and thus leaving me with a heavier heart. It seriously feels insulting most of the time.
That is why even before this Ministry Skills 201, I try to hear well and listen carefully to people. I am sensitive enough.
PURPOSE. I love what Livingstone said about his purpose which is to help others heal from loss and trauma. It challenges me to know my purpose in listening to others. But I would love to be a presence in in a friend's or someone's life. I'd love to be a presence that comforts and encourages - a presence beyond words, a presence in the absence of words. I guess based on my experiences, most of the time I just want to be heard. I just want to be heard. Most of the time I already know what people are going to tell and advise me. But most of the time I just want to be heard.
I guess now I must challenge myself to know my purpose in counselling (non-pro) someone in need.
Note: This is my Reflection Article on http://www.psychotherapy.net/article/psychotherapist-grief by Bob Livingstone for my Ministry Skills 201 C
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