Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What We Don't Say

Sometimes what we don't say is what deepens the intimacy and allows healing to happen. A dear friend taught me this years ago, He was obese. Friends would arrange times to meet with him and tell him how concerned they were about his weight and the health problems it was & could create. He said to me, "Do they think I don't know that I'm obese, that I'm not experiencing the health problems directly?"

And I got it: sometimes when we express our concerns for a friend or relative- a grown son or daughter, an aging parent- to them, it can unintentionally land as a criticism or a statement of the obvious that suggests they are not capable of seeing it and taking care of themselves. This slides over into becoming an exchange that is more about taking care of our own anxiety than it is about caring for the other.

So, maybe we can just skip the qualifier and tell others how much we love them. Instead of "I'm really concerned about you because. . . . " just, "I love you," or "I care about you and please know you can always call me." If we add anything to this, perhaps it could be our appreciation for them- for their intelligence and insight; their humor or way of seeing things: their generosity and way of loving us.

I am not saying a problem should never be pointed out (and interventions are sometimes invaluable,) but in general, in this department less really is more. Sometimes what we don't say tells the other we respect their right to live their life and have faith in their ability to find their way as we find ours. As someone who often has "insights" about life and others (Ha! :-) ) I congratulate myself when I spend time with a loved one, just loving them- and not sharing my "insights" or concerns about their life.

Sometimes. . . .well, all of the time. . . we all just need to be loved as and for who we are- with all of our messy human foibles. And love changes everything. ~ Oriah

1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes, yes! So refreshing to hear this. As someone who has often been on the other side of this criticism, this dynamic is often alienating of the personal relationship. To just hold presence and let someone be who they are going to be, and offer support as they ask for it is the most challenging but powerful thing to do. xo.