“Can I come over?”
“I need to be in your space.”
I imagine we all get those calls from time to time. A friend who needs an ear, a troubled soul who needs a hand in sorting it all out, a hurting friend who needs a hug.
A good friend called me and said I was the only person he could talk to. He said that I was the most grounded person he knew; “wise” he said.
In my younger years, that would have inflated my ego and I would’ve puffed up thinking that, with my help, my friend’s problems would be solved. Thankfully, getting older also includes getting wiser (I hope!) and releasing that puffy old ego more and more with each passing year. I was touched that he reached out to me, but I know that I can’t solve anyone’s problems.
I can listen, though. I believe I’m a good listener. I’ve even taught workshops on “Active Listening” as part of a previous job. I’ve probably mentioned that I had speech problems as a kid, often so embarrassed that I just tried not to talk much. So I listened. I looked a person in the eye, moved my body to face him or her, and listened attentively with my whole body and mind. I’d note the inflection of speech, the body language, the facial expressions; all deeper clues to what the person was trying to convey than the actual words they were saying. (Speech therapy classes taught me some of these skills.) Even before I knew the expression, I knew how to be fully present to another.
I don’t usually give advice, though, even when the inevitable “but what shall I do?” is asked. (It would probably be my own ego talking.) I’ll share my own thoughts and experiences, but I really make an effort not to tell the other person what I think they should do. Instead, I’ll ask questions (speaking to their higher self) to help the person consider their options in a healthy, constructive way and determine their own next move.
Each person owns their own journey. I constantly remind myself of that. I can listen, I can hold a hand, I can hug or cry or laugh; I can share and encourage further thinking. But I can’t own another person’s journey or solve their problems. Each of us owns our own journey. No one else is responsible for solving our personal problems. No one else is responsible for making us happy. Each time I get that “I need to talk to you” call, I remind myself: Each of us owns our own journey – and I try to get my self out of the way so I can be fully present for the person calling.
I am praying for my friend, praying that his talking/my listening helped him in thinking through some things. I pray that his journey improves and that his heart and spirit move into a healthier and happier place. It’s up to him. I wish him happiness and lightness of spirit.