Never underestimate the power of talking with someone who really listens.

Our culture doesn’t encourage people to talk about their emotional pain. Our culture teaches people to suppress their feelings. People tell each other not to “whine” about problems or not “dwell” on them. People are told to “get over it” and to “be strong,” meaning “don’t feel anything and if you do, don’t talk about it or show it.”

One example of this is when only certain emotions are deemed “appropriate.” Anger, especially for men, is more acceptable than sadness or anything vulnerable. So, for many men, emotions like sadness, loneliness, disappointment, anxiety, guilt, and shame get funneled into expressions that look like anger. 

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Unhealthy coping mechanisms such as using alcohol, other substances, or addictive activities are taken up in order to push the genuine feelings down. These provide some temporary relief but, ultimately, undermine a person’s strength, health and functionality.

Most people, when they feel upset, benefit by talking to someone who listens patiently, non-judgmentally, empathically, and who shows that he/she understands at a deep level. Validating how one feels is important in the healing process. There is something basic in the way human beings react when receiving this simple, but skillful, response to talking about their emotional pain.

When you are actively listening, there is no judgment or evaluation of what the speaker is saying. Often parents resist at this point, thinking that active listening implies that you are agreeing with whatever your children are saying.  Accepting is not the same as agreeing. You can accept that a person/child feels a certain way, without agreeing.

Depression is no different from any other emotional pain, in this sense. So if you are feeling depressed or in emotional pain, try to find someone you can trust and talk to and someone who will listen deeply and without judgment. If there is no one in your life like this, and you don’t feel comfortable with a friend/family member, find a good therapist. It helps to talk with a highly trained and skilled intuitive professional in confidence.

At the Hellenic Therapy Center, we have a team of licensed professionals who can help you. We are available day, evening and weekend hours. Visit us at www.hellenictherapy.com or call 908-322-0112.