Getting a conversation unstuck

When people feel that they haven’t been heard for a long time, they naturally become frustrated. When they finally find someone who will truly listen, they may want to unload all of their pent-up issues at once.

Such venting can be a good start to a self-healing conversation. But a supportive listener will help a speaker move past a simple airing of grievances or obsession with one topic to deeper understanding.

Psychologists tell us the average person has about 50,000 thoughts per day. So why is it so easy to get stuck on just one?

The human psyche is very good at self-preservation. The more important or potentially painful an issue, the more likely we are to try to keep it isolated from the rest of our thoughts. The irony is that the more we try to avoid an issue, the more we tend to think about avoiding it, so it actually grows as a focus of our attention.

A good place to start bringing perspective to an issue that has taken hold of your thoughts is to refocus the conversation onto the emotions surrounding the thoughts.

When you say someone “made me so angry,” what does that really mean? It has less to do with that other person’s actions – or lack of action — and more to do with your own reactions.

A supportive listener will ask questions to help you explore your feelings about what happened, rather than letting you get stuck on repeated retellings of the incident. A really good listener will restate what he or she thinks you are saying, and working together, you can finally come to an authentic knowledge of your thoughts, your feelings, and yourself.

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