No one cares about me. “Don’t say that, I care!”
I keep hearing strange noises. “Everything is okay, you are okay!”
I waited all day for you to come home. “I’m sorry, I do the best I can!”
I’m no good for anything. Why don’t you just throw me in a hole? “That’s so silly. Don’t talk like that!”
Well, dear friend, did I drag you down into the dumps with these conversations? Can you relate to a few of them?
Some of you are caring for or have cared for someone who seems to find a problem with everything you do. Perhaps they complain a lot, get impatient, and say the same things over and over and often wear you down.
How do you help them understand that you love them and really do want the best for them? How about sharpening your listening skills and breaking the habit of reacting to every comment made. Let’s look at the comments again with a different approach to each.
No one cares about me. “Do you feel that way some time? I’m so sorry. I want you to know you are loved very much and we are very, very glad you are here.”
I keep hearing strange noises. “Does that make you feel afraid? Perhaps you hear the heater or air conditioner coming on at night. (Or the pet cat or dog or ???) You can be sure that you are safe here.”
I waited all day for you to come home. “Was it a long day for you? Perhaps we can find some things that interest you to help pass the time while I am gone. Have you some ideas?”
I’m no good for anything. Why don’t you just throw me in a hole? “Do you worry about your health or dying? Are you missing your old friends? You are very special to us, we want you here for a long time. You can be sure you are important to our family.”
Of course, these comments would need adjusted to meet your particular needs. Did you notice the difference in reacting to a comment and really listening to one? When we really listen, we consider the person talking. Often they may still be grieving the loss of their independence, driver’s license, friends, health, eyesight. Their sadness, complaining and stubbornness may have more to do with those things than the situation at hand.
Learning to listen is a growing experience. Our nature is to solve the problem, give advice, encourage—sometimes, we argue or judge inappropriately. How much better to communicate with a listening ear. It does not mean the issue will not come up again tomorrow! (Note: this does not mean you must accept abuse or needless ridicule or guilt feelings. We’ll discuss this at a later time.)
We can learn from Jesus who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heaven laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
Read about my experiences in listening in my book, MY MOTHER MY CHILD available here.