It’s 10 days into Mental Health Awareness month, and yet here I am with no post. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, it’s that I have so much. Throughout my mental healthy journey, I’ve learned a lot of things. But I’ve had to unlearn even more. In the next coming week(s) I’ll be posting blogs about the top three things I’ve had to unlearn. I hope you’ll learn a little something from them.
During a Sol Sisters workshop, I participated in an exercise where you let the other person talk for 3 minutes without saying a single word. Not even an, “Mmmhmm” in solidarity. You know how hard – not to mention awkward it is to do that? I felt that without any verbal cues of confirmation, there was no way the other person could tell I was actually listening. I tried to smile and nod my head, but am pretty sure I looked like I was having a stroke instead of silently saying, “Girl, I FEEL YOU”. I learned that it was just as awkward for the person to talk for three minutes straight.
This also meant that I had to unlearn the habit of sharing my own stories in an attempt to find common ground with other people. Apparently, it shifts the focus from them to me. The intention was never to make it about me, it was to let the other person know I can empathize and that the advice I give is coming from experience. This also includes giving advice (unless asked). For a long time, I thought that part of being a good friend meant giving fire ass advice that lead to ideal results. While this can be absolutely true, you can still be a good friend by simply listening.
Ultimately, I’m unlearning the way I respond to those who come to me during difficult times. Now I just have to learn how to be patient and compassionate with myself in the process.