That Could Never Happen To Me!
If a person has enough confidence to open up their heart to tell you their issues, the worst thing you can do is respond by saying, “That could never happen to me”. Or, “They could never do that to me” and similar responses. Despite what you truly feel or believe, that is not important. What is important is your listening ear. You will have crushed that person’s feelings and trust immediately with a response like that.
With the best of intentions, we always think we know how we will respond in certain situations. The truth is until you have actually been in it or through it you will not definitely know how you will respond. There is always more to an event or occasion than you thought or imagined.
This reaction may cause the person to never confide in you again. It can also mean that they may have no one else to go to so they keep all their pain within, causing depression, frustration and even suicide.
You can never be sure how you will react in a certain situation until it happens to you. Even then, the way how you believed or thought you would react may now not be the right/correct response because there are other factors that you could never have imagined.
It is always right to think before you speak. Listen before you react. Question to make sure you understand. Repeat for clarification. Do not rush to give a response. Take time to assess, empathise, sympathise and advise. Sometimes all the person needs are a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. Why do you feel you should give your opinion of what you would do if it happened to you?
The best approach is to listen. Make suggestions like, “Have you tried…?” or “Do you think…? Or “Maybe you can….” BUT NEVER, “If it was me that could never happen”, or “If I was you I would…” especially if you have never experienced what they are taking the time to share with you. They have obviously chosen you because there is some level of trust. Do not destroy that trust by knocking them down with your opinions of how you would react in their situation without having experienced it yourself.
Be wary of using examples of how you would deal with specific issues especially when you are happily married and the person is single. When you have a spouse with a family of 2 or more children and the person is a single parent of one (or more). Or when you are raising girls and the person is raising boys. Even when you are healthy in body and the person is physically ill. Always be careful what you say when a person has lost a loved one. With the best intentions, instead of offering comfort and care you find that you have offered a non-comforting and possibly hurtful statement to that person.
No one ever wants to believe that bad things happen to good people. We bury our heads in the sand when we don’t want to face the difficulties in life. In reality no one can be sure what challenges they will be confronted with whether one is good or bad. What can happen to one person can easily happen to you.
There’s a saying “Who knows it, feels it”. If you don’t know it, don’t pretend or assume you know the feelings and reactions that come with that situation. Always be mindful of what you say. Words can cut like a knife and destroy but they can also comfort, lift spirits, encourage, show love and support. Change your mind-set…. It could possibly happen to you!