Lessons Learned by Listening to the Wounded

by General Caregiving, Wisdom0 comments

By Rodger Price

As a regular contributor to Wisdom of the Wounded, I have the honor of sharing stories of caring well during life’s difficulties. Over the years, the teachings of this ministry have also offered lessons to me.  I recently found myself in three conversations that were quite uncomfortable for someone like me who likes to see only the bright side of things and tries to find solutions when things clearly aren’t bright. And I’m glad to say that the ministry’s wisdom was there when I needed it, so I could be there for those who needed me.

The first was with someone dealing with significant stress due to a political opponent publicly telling lies and attacking his thoughts and character in the local media. This caused great anxiety for his family and friends, let alone himself. We spoke for over an hour about what he was experiencing, and I mostly just listened (a skill that has been greatly reinforced by things I’ve learned from Wisdom of the Wounded.)

The very next day I found myself talking to a friend who had recently lost two very close people in his life, the two that he hung out with the most. At that time, he was dealing with almost overwhelming grief. We spoke for over an hour about what he was experiencing and, again, I mostly just listened.

Later that evening I attended the visitation of a good friend’s mother who had passed away at a ripe old age. I thought about another lesson I learned from Wisdom of the Wounded and kept my focus on honoring the deceased by asking about my friend’s mother and her life. (See tips for what to say in a funeral line.)

Any one of these situations would have been difficult for me, let alone three right on top of each other. Thankfully I’ve learned some great wisdom over the years, some of which has come from the “wounded” stories shared by the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry. From these life experiences and education, I was able to employ the following “nuggets of wisdom” and actions during my recent interactions with those who were hurting:

  • It’s OK for me to let someone’s situation simply “be” what it is. I don’t need to own it and feel a need to try and fix it.
  • Creating a safe space for them to just share what they are experiencing is an act of real love; likely the kind of love they need in that moment.
  • Being present with them by leaning-in to their situation rather than leaning-away. This leaning-in is done through the way I listen, empathize and ask questions that lead to greater understanding. I believe that somehow my calm presence can communicate that they will be OK even with the pain or anxiety they are currently experiencing.

I am thankful that the creators of Wisdom of the Wounded share these kinds of lessons so more of us can help, and not hurt, when people are in difficult situations. I hope my recounting of these three events helps you in your journey of caring for others.

Rodger Price

Rodger Price

Rodger is the founder of Leading by DESIGN, an executive development firm, and believes many of the philosophies and techniques needed for caring well are also needed for leading well. He is also the author of Faith and Physics Uncovered which tells the story of how physics led him to make his ultimate decision about faith.

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