How many times have you said that you don’t want to listen to other people’s stories – good, bad or ugly? Or felt that no one wants to listen to yours? Or that you don’t have a voice? I’m talking about something basic you might experience at work or at home or socially or even in the virtual sphere these days. Almost everyone has been on one end of the spectrum at times.
I’ve had moments in the past where I wanted to express feelings of really being down in the dumps, or my moments of glory but when I tried talking to people, two things happened: firstly, either people didn’t care about my sad or happy state of mind, because maybe, they were too happy being where they were in life or unhappy themselves; secondly, they were too immune to care about anything, so no empathy and definitely no sympathy.
Often when you try to talk about your situations, whether in excitement or sadness, your opinion or your state of mind or anything that you need to get off your chest, you might feel you’ve hit against the wall.
The problem is not not wanting to listen to other people’s stories, or vice versa, it delves deeper than that. I did a simple and quick check on the reasons why we become haters for another person’s expressions or anxious about sharing our own voice:
- Self doubt: Often we refrain from opening up in front of people not because of social anxiety or social withdrawal rather because we doubt our own voice to be capable enough to be heard. We tend to undervalue our own gifts because of this self doubt. The idea of someone else being better than you or that you aren’t good enough to talk about things comes into play.
- Too busy to care: Often we are too busy to listen to any other voice, so forget being empathetic or sympathetic to someone’s stories – good or bad. Often the reactions would be reckless because people really are driven by the sickness of busyness.
- Tell me your company and I will tell you who you are: The company we keep stands true for most situations, including this one. Often because our friends are of a certain opinion, we tend to go by their word and believe it to be true. For some, it even becomes a way to ridicule someone, when he or she might share. It sort of becomes our reality, thereby, drawing us into a circle of skepticism, feeling of not wanting to be heard or to hear others, from time to time.
- Prior experience with contempt: Our friends and acquaintances who have dealt with contempt themselves, try to offer it to others without even realizing the consequences. Often when one has experienced ridicule or a cold shoulder, people feel they might be empowered, if they do the same to another person. However, it just becomes a vicious circle of contempt then, helping no one.
- Different perceptions of reality and truth: Sometimes, it is just lack of interest because the other person might not be on the same page. Whether it is because of prior experiences or just their perception of reality being different than yours, which is alright but should be communicated.
All those times, when your friend would write something going on in his or her life, on Facebook, or twitter or some odd days even text you about it or speak to you… and you would think, “why are you telling me this? I don’t want to know!” Well, even if that is true, that you really don’t care and don’t want to know, YOU have the option to switch off and shut down, rather than trying to shut the other person down and switching her off. These days we call a lot of these comments that are thrown to us on social media as -“haters.” We’ve all been on both ends of the spectrum, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. Empathy and mindfulness is something we should embrace, even if for a short while.
We are so engrossed in our daily lives that we aren’t mindful enough of other people’s struggles or successes or just routine life. We selfishly forget that for some, public expression is a medium to get things out of their system and heal (of course there are attention seekers too, but largely not).
The case I’m propagating here, through this “worldly” understanding is that we can make the world a better place by choosing to lend a ear at times. Also by choosing to really care because it might help that person (who knows someday they would return the favor).