That’s Another Story
Stories are like Russian dolls. You’ll find one inside another and another, and another. So, typically, the one you know isn’t all there is, and everyone has at least some.
Take the people you happen to know. They are family, friends, work colleagues, and folk you just happen to have met. You know them, but you don’t. At least, not all their stories.
Tales of anxiety, fear, and depression are often hidden, concealed for convenience and to escape from pain. Except the pain of these tales remains and gnaws in secret, adding more to each story.
You doubtless have your own tales too. Ones you’d rather not say much about to most. Why? It’s obvious. They are just too delicate and the risk of misunderstanding is too great.
I am a great believer in making allowances for people’s backstories. You really don’t know the half of it, and often that’s okay. Yet, giving people space to cope, deal with trouble, and get through is deeply appreciated.
If people want to share their stories of pain with you, receive them wholeheartedly. Accept that their sharing means more than our advice. For sharing a burden halves a burden and makes the world feel safer for someone suffering a silent ache.
Our part is to listen, accept, and gently help with relevant information when it’s asked for. Listening with all your heart and your brain switched on is not easy, but it’s remarkably powerful. Compared to what we end up saying, it’s listening that matters most. Because only a receptive and trustworthy audience allows secret stories to come out.
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