Listening with Love #8:
Dear Listeners and Lovers,
Something that I have been thinking through is the who, how and when of sharing my struggles with mental health. Can I talk to all my friends about it? Can I share it with my co-workers so they have more context and an explanation for my behaviours and actions? Can I share it with someone I have just met? Even though it is not something new, it has taken me really long to accept it as a part of my identity. And so, I'm still afraid to trust. I fear being judged, misunderstood, labeled and maybe even pitied. I have tried a few times before, to explain how I feel and although I appreciate the people in my life who have supported me, I have also had people dismiss it, undermine it, call me 'intense' (whatever that means) and also be scared by something that they don't understand. And so I (anonymously) ask you how might you approach this?
Thank you for making your dilemma visible to us.
Discussing your mental health and trauma with others isn't easy, so your doubts and fears are valid. There is also an underlying need for acceptance I am hearing in your sharing.
There is not one right answer to your questions either. "It depends" would be the most appropriate response.
If someone makes you feel seen or heard always, they may be able to understand your challenges with greater empathy and compassion. One can prepare them by sharing how you want them to hold space for you.
In my experience, I have found people who are closer to my traumas to be the hardest to share with. I have shared with colleagues on a need to know basis if and when my work is impacted.
I have felt the safest and most heard confiding to strangers in trusted communities or therapists. They listen to me without filters and they don't have an interest in 'fixing' or 'solving' my problem.
What I have observed over time is that I have become more confident to talk about my journey without worrying about acceptance from others. I see it as my truth and have reduced the power I give others to judge it. As a result, I have found more allies who understand and are on the path of healing themselves.
Like you did with us, even sharing that you're struggling with your mental health is a good first step. You've already begun this work of opening up. Ultimately, you have to listen to your intuition and decide what feels best for you in a moment.
All the best. 🌻
finding safe spaces to share about your struggles can be a difficult journey but self-acceptance may be a good first step...
Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.
- Brené Brown
Find worthy listeners
About Listening with Love
As a group of community weavers, we have been wondering what it would mean for everyone in the group to share our worries, challenges, joys and fears here with vulnerability and honesty while feeling safe and not feeling the burden of having to reveal ourselves to the group. These may be questions, thoughts or feelings about the past, present, or future; about ourselves, our loved ones or strangers.
Hence, we are starting a new thread called "Listening with Love" to help community members find perspectives on their situation.
If you have something on your mind, you are welcome to share it with us using this form. We will tap into our community's compassion and wisdom on your behalf.