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Today (March 1st) is Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD).  If you harm, remember that you aren’t alone and that you aren’t a failure if you haven’t quite quit yet.  And if you are supporting people, listen to them when they wish to speak and let them know that you’ll be there.

I have nothing else to say about the day itself so I will continue with another topic, although it may relate.

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“Are they tired of listening to me?”

This question doesn’t only circle the minds of those who self-harm, but anyone who feels tension when they confide in someone.  Some personal dilemmas linger and continuously frustrate us.  For this reason, we may continue talking about the same troubles again and again with someone we confide with.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it can make us question whether or not we are annoying this person.  We can’t control how others react, so here are a few points on what to do if you are confiding in someone or someone is confiding in you.

If you are confiding in someone:

  • Try to find someone as understanding as possible.  Of course this isn’t a simple task.  Most of us would be most willing to confide in our friends, but being friends doesn’t guarantee willingness to talk.  I have some friends that I’ve shared many laughs with but don’t usually share deeply personal or emotional thoughts.  I wouldn’t talk about my reoccurring issues with these people.  Instead, talk to those who are more willing to be emotionally open.  There is a lesser chance of these individuals becoming aggravated with your long-term problems.  But again, this isn’t a simple task.  Therapists may be a good option,
  • Be specific.  Perhaps the exact same thing is bothering you, but perhaps it differs slightly.  For example, you may be depressed, but there may be various triggers.  Perhaps you are upset with a relationship, a bad grade, self-esteem, or various life stressors.  Although they may cause similar feelings, these are all different from each other.  Being specific can help you identify what is wrong and make changes to fix it.
  • Try to fix your problems. Don’t just assume that things will magically get better.  Many things can’t be fixed easily, but you have to start somewhere if you want things to change.  Besides, if you aren’t making an effort to fix your problems, people you are confiding in may become frustrated.  They can’t help you if you aren’t trying to help yourself.
  • Most importantly: Remember that this person (if talking to a friend or family member) is not a psychologist/therapist.  It would be great if they can help you, but don’t expect them to be able to solve or help you solve all of your problems.  They should be there mainly to support you, but not to be your doctor.  Putting too much pressure on them to help you can very well frustrate them and create tension in your relationship.

If someone is confiding in you:

  • Remember this person probably isn’t trying to frustrate you.  Their goal isn’t to repeat their problems over and over just to drive you mad.  If it keeps bugging them, it is probably a big deal.  Understanding that this is an important issue can help make the individual more comfortable confiding in you.
  • Even if you don’t understand, try not to dismiss their pain.  Perhaps the issue that has been constantly bugging them seems simple or silly to you.  For you it might be, but everyone handles things differently.  Listen to them fully without trying to graze over things that you don’t think are important.  However, if something is particularly triggering for them or they are not quite comfortable with disclosing some information, don’t pry it out of them.
  • Remember, you are not a therapist.  Be there to support this person, but don’t get upset that you can’t solve all of their problems.  It isn’t your job and you might not have the appropriate training.  If you don’t feel comfortable with all that someone is asking you to do, don’t feel obligated.  Help them seek other help if you can.

Overall, remember the boundaries between friends and doctors.  There are ways to help people without being their personal therapist.  Sometimes being a friend is helpful enough.

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