How many of us say these words “I know”, “I understand”, “the same thing happened to me once” when someone who trusts us is trying to explain what they are going through?
In truth, even when our dear ones are telling us something, they are editing their story, confession or feelings as they go along talking and all you want to say, “yeah, it happened to me too.”
It could have happened to you too, you might understand, but somethings are not that simple. You could have been injured or had a surgery, but the other person is terminally sick. So no, you don’t understand.
It could be that you suffered through your early years, stumbled a lot and hit a few walls until you fully embraced yourself and became a know-it-all, but the other person is still stumbling for different reasons, they might be weaker than you, had a harder life or simply are afraid of something you can’t comprehend.
It could be that you just broke up with your boyfriend of 8 months but that person ended a 20 years of marriage and is suffering from a horrible divorce.
It could be that you bought that Valentino dress for 800 $ but that person barely has 5 $ in their pocket to go to that wedding of a mutual friend.
It could be that your mother cooked a dish you hated and went out for dinner when that person doesn’t have someone to cook for them, and doesn’t have enough money to buy a meal in the food court.
It could be that you have many opinions about religions and politics and can solve things on paper but that person has been treated in a racist way and suffered through war, not on TV but real war.
It could be just a movie about abuse to you but to that person its flashback memories of their own abuse.
It could be that your grandma who you haven’t visited in months that passed away but that person has just been orphaned.
I could go on and on but the truth is people are different, they have different experiences and stories, no one can measure the amount of pain, loss, grief, sadness, depression or love the other person is going through even if you had went through something in the same category. People throw around words like “heartbroken”, “depressed”, “miserable”, “madly in love” a lot but only few people actually experience such feelings. Usually when someone goes through something like that, they have a hard time talking about it. When they do, they are sharing a part of their souls, they might only want someone to listen, to understand, to be kind, or they might just want to cry a bit.
Is it so hard just to listen? To feel what the other person is trying to say? Feelings, especially deep ones aren’t as simple as a Facebook or Twitter status, you can’t be witty when you are raw and honest, anger is the easiest feeling to talk about, but sadness and pain are private, you need compassion to comprehend.
If someone shares such things with you, you are dearer to them than you think. They value your time and your opinion and they need help. Don’t be half in if you can’t handle it, don’t say you understand if you haven’t been through it. Just listen.
And remember, people are always deeper than you think, the most carefree people have usually suffered the most, the people who give good advises have been through a lot, and the people who feel what you are feeling are irreplaceable.