Sunday 29 October 2017

#296 Do vulnerable people make good company?

I'd been thinking lately about why I enjoyed listening to people. Listening to them talk about their problems. Helping at the mental health charity. Surrounding myself with vulnerable people. If I could call it that. Vulnerable in some sense perhaps. I set about trying to articulate it. It went like this:

How marvelous. How marvelous to be able to hack and unpack and tinker with a person. Like you're working on a car, without getting your hands greasy. Like completing a puzzle. They'll thank you for it. The manipulative way in which an outsider can ask the right questions and give the right answers, so as to improve a person's well-being. Without ever giving advice or making statements about what life is or is supposed to be. Like you're playing a game.

The rules are simple. Don't judge. Don't advise. Just listen. Empathise. Enquire. It's so simple. Yet not everyone has that kind of patience, or understanding. Their beliefs get in the way. They think you have to think this, or do that or believe this. Because that's what someone told them and they went and built a life on their conviction. That's all they know. So they're no good.

Thinking that your beliefs, thoughts and convictions will be useful to another person is like thinking your shoes will fit them. Only if they're the exact right size and even then, the other person may not like the colour, or the buckles or the trim and that's perfectly fine. Caring about someone is about helping them to figure out what they want. Whatever it is. Without judgement.

I like listening to people because it's a way of learning and I enjoy learning about people. Some people. It involves taking their chaotic thoughts and calming them down. Making way for some kind of order to arise. I like calmness and order. Sometimes. So that's why I enjoy it.

When someone's vulnerable, they're more likely to be sensitive to the kind of words and tone that they use, which means it's safe to be around them. This is a huge generalisation. I don't mean to say it's true all the time, it's just something that can occur. When people lack the armor to engage in ego battles, they're safer to be around.


Fizzfan said...

Love the shoe analogy:) Lacking the armour to engage in ego battles too.

I don’t have enough innate patience to deal with too much vulnerability but have had to learn to be more so due to people close to me. It’s been quite difficult, but you’re right, patience is more effective than trying to fix the problem as you see it.

Talking to people who don’t judge you is hugely important, so if you’re able to offer that to others, I guess your own understanding of vulnerability has helped?
Kudos to you.

Profound Familiarity said...

I think I'd struggle with too much patience too. Some therapists spend years waiting for patients to reach conclusions that the therapist knows from the moment the patient walks in. I don't know how they do it.

I probably do have some understanding of vulnerability but only as a novice. If there was like a job that involved talking to twenty year olds who're having basic relationship difficulties, I guess I could do that.