Tag Archives: communication

Easy Ways To Be A Better Listener

Have you ever been in a situation where you were pouring your heart out to someone, only for them to turn the conversation around to themselves?  Maybe you were talking about a difficult time in your life, & the other person kept interrupting with stories of their own struggles.  It can be frustrating & hurtful, especially if you’re already vulnerable.  This is why it’s important to remember that when someone is talking about something you can relate to, you should listen & support them, rather than making it all about you.

When someone is sharing a personal experience, it’s important to remember that they are trusting us with their vulnerability.  By turning the conversation around to ourselves, we are essentially shutting them down & telling them that our experiences are more important than theirs.  This can be incredibly damaging to our relationships, particularly with those who have experienced verbal & emotional abuse.

People who have been through abuse may struggle to open up to others, especially if they have been gaslighted, or made to feel like their experiences are not valid.  When we turn the conversation around to ourselves, we are reinforcing this idea that their experiences are not important.  It can make it even harder for them to trust others & feel like they can share their feelings.

Additionally, when we repeatedly turn the conversation around to ourselves, we are sending a message that we are not interested in what the other person has to say.  Even if we don’t feel that way, our behavior shows otherwise.  This can lead to the other person feeling invalidated & unheard, & they may start to avoid opening up to us altogether.

So, how can we respond in a way that shows we care & are invested in what the other person is saying?  Here are a few tips:

Listen actively: When someone is sharing with us, we should give them our full attention.  This means actively listening to what they are saying, without interrupting or trying to relate it back to ourselves.

Show empathy: Let the other person know that you hear them & understand how they are feeling.  This can be as simple as saying, “That sounds really tough.  I’m sorry you’re going through that.”  You also can say you went through something similar, but unless they specifically ask for all the details, don’t elaborate much so as to avoid turning the conversation’s focus to you,

Ask questions: If you’re not sure what to say, ask the other person questions about their experience.  This shows that you’re interested in what they have to say & can help them feel heard.

Avoid offering unsolicited advice: Unless the other person specifically asks for advice, it’s best to avoid giving it.  Instead, focus on validating their feelings & providing support.

Be mindful of your own behavior.  Take the time to reflect on how you respond when others open up to you & make a conscious effort to be more present & supportive.  This is particularly important for those who have not experienced verbal or emotional abuse, as you may not fully understand how your behavior can impact others.

Being a good listener is not always easy, but it’s essential for building strong, healthy relationships.  By being mindful of how we respond when others open up to us, we can create a safe & supportive space for them to share their experiences.  This, in turn, can help strengthen our connections & foster greater empathy & understanding.


Filed under Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Enjoying Life, Mental Health

Schedule Time To Talk

At the end of July, my husband & I had a disagreement.  Not even really a fight, just a disagreement.  During the course of working things out, we began talking about our relationship in general.  We realized that when stressed, we both tend to withdraw into ourselves.  Both being major introverts (he’s INTJ, I’m INFJ), it’s hardly a surprise.  It’s also not good for our marriage, because when he withdraws it triggers me to withdraw from him & when I withdraw, it triggers him to withdraw from me also.  We tried to figure out ways to cope with this when we came up with a good solution, & I believe it’s beneficial for any marriage.

We now have daily time to talk with each other, minus tv & computer.  Maybe music but that is iffy.  In fact, we have the Amazon Echo Dot, & I have a daily reminder on there for her to tell us to talk so we are sure not to forget this time.

Every evening at 9, our Dot tells us “This is your daily reminder.  It’s talk time.”  At that time, we turn off the tv & computers, ignore the phone & talk.  The topics vary daily.  Sometimes he talks more than me, sometimes I talk more than him.  We also don’t have a set time we must talk, so sometimes it’s only 10 minutes, sometimes an hour or more.  There are also times we do it earlier in the day because maybe there’s a tv show we want to watch coming on at 9 or we’re really tired & want to get some extra sleep.  We also had an evening where one of our cats got sick & had to go to the emergency vet about 9pm, so talk time obviously was postponed that day & rescheduled for the next few days while he was in there to adapt to our spending time at the hospital.  There are no rules & there is absolutely NO pressure about talk time other than spend time together.

This ritual has been super beneficial for our marriage!  I’ve noticed we are withdrawing much less & being a lot more open about everything.  My husband used to hold a lot in about his difficulties at work but now he is talking about them.  Even when it isn’t “talk time,” he’s opening up about work more often.  He used to hold his frustrations in so this is a very good thing!  So much healthier!

We also are closer than we once were.  Focusing on each other daily has increased the intimacy in our marriage.  We are more open with each other & know we can talk to each other about anything.  I’ve felt safer to bring up topics that could start arguments because both of us are more patient, considerate & understand with each other since we started with our daily talk time.  It seems like we slow down & really think about things more during talk time.

I think we also have begun to have even more in common than we once did.  By focusing so much on each other during our talk time, it seems to have enabled us to see things from each other’s perspectives more than we once did.  We used to butt heads about how money should be spent, as one example, but now we agree on it.  Granted that area improved the longer we’ve been together, but  since we started this ritual, we’ve gotten to be a lot more on the same page.  We rarely disagree on financial things anymore.

I wanted to share this discovery with you, Dear Reader, because I think this talk time ritual can help any marriage.  I know, life can be so busy, but like I said, it doesn’t have to take long.  Even just a few minutes each day where you & your spouse focus on each other can be a good thing.  If you opt to try this in your marriage, then please do as we have done & keep it as low key as possible.  I really think pressure would make it into a burden rather than something to look forward to each day.  Schedule a time that works for you but be flexible enough to change it if circumstances dictate.  Don’t worry about having a time limit either or specific topics.  Just hang out with your spouse & talk about whatever topics come up.  The point is to have fun, relax or work through a problem.  Just go with the flow & see if your marriage doesn’t improve like mine did.


Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Miscellaneous

A Helpful Tool For Responding In Difficult Situations

Much information I’ve read about Alzheimer’s stresses the importance of treating the patient with respect.  They are more frustrated than you because they can’t remember things or function like they once did, & your lack of respect will upset them even more.  One article gave a very valuable tip for the caregivers that is also extremely useful for dealing with difficult people in general.  Although I have mentioned it before, I want to stress it again because I believe it is extremely valuable.

Rather than reacting out of emotion, take a moment to take a deep breath, think, then respond instead.

Reacting is done without thinking while responding requires thought.  Reacting causes stress & disagreements, where responding can avoid them.  No matter how functional or dysfunctional your relationship, or whether or not the other person has an awful illness like Alzheimer’s, responding is always better than reacting.

As I’ve mentioned, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July of last year.  Also as I’ve mentioned before, Alzheimer’s & dementia exacerbate narcissism in a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Dealing with him has become very difficult sometimes even though the disease hasn’t progressed too badly yet.  I have found the pause to take a deep breath tactic very useful for dealing with him.  As an added bonus, I learned it’s also useful in dealing with my narcissistic mother.

Deep breathing is relaxing, plus the pause gives you a moment to calm down your anger.  Both really help in dealing with narcissists!

This technique also helps me to deal with the frustration of flaring symptoms that accompany C-PTSD like having trouble finding the right words.  The brief pause often means the word comes to me when it wouldn’t during moments of frustration.  It also can help to trigger remembering something that was lost a moment before.

It also helps my marriage.  Thanks to the C-PTSD & a brain injury, I can be very moody & irritable.  Unfortunately there are times I have snapped at my husband for no reason, but I have found this technique helps to cut back on those times a lot.  If we’re talking while I am irritable, I stop & take a deep breath.  It helps me to have more control, & not snap at my poor husband.

No matter the status of your relationships or your mental health, I hope you will consider what I have said & begin to employ this technique.  It really can be helpful in even the most challenging of relationships!


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health