Are You Being Heard?

help with anger brightonWhat happens to us when we are repeatedly ‘not heard’ by important others? From a child’s perspective, I can imagine feeling misunderstood, unseen, dismissed and – eventually – angry. In adulthood, there might then be a danger that this old anger may get in the way of us feeling heard by the people who are closest to us now.
What Does Not Hearing Sound Like?
I recently came across a thought-provoking article entitled Emotions Are Not Bad Behaviour written by the Sydney-based psychologist, Robin Grille. In it is a useful (and humbling) table of examples of the ways parents and caregivers fail to listen to children’s feelings – effectively blocking empathy, understanding and connection. As Robin Grille points out, we all do this from time to time (sometimes with good intentions) however if these are the only or most frequent ways we respond to our children’s distress then we could be storing up trouble for the future.
Childhood Frustration, Adult Sensitivity?
If as a child we never felt properly heard by those who were taking care of us it is possible that, as adults, when we catch a hint of someone important seemingly not listening to us the old pain and frustration is awoken and we respond with anger or even rage. This anger might well be disproportionate to the current situation leaving the other person confused and upset. And when people are confused, upset or frightened it becomes even harder to listen well and our relationships suffer. We might not even be aware that a sense of not feeling heard is the problem; all that can be seen by ourselves and those around us is out-of-control anger.
How Can Counselling or Psychotherapy Help?
For some people, successful counselling or psychotherapy might be the first time they have felt heard by another human being. Hopefully, it will be a chance to experience empathy and understanding without judgement, criticism or haste. That is not to say that therapy is just about listening. A sense of being heard by another can be liberating and healing in itself but for the process to be truly beneficial I believe that something different has to happen. We cannot change something in ourselves that we cannot see. However, bringing our sensitivities into awareness via therapy allows us to consider whether we want to continue reacting the way we have always done or choose to learn how to respond to the here-and-now in new ways.
If you live or work within reach of Brighton and Hove and my approach to psychotherapy and counselling interests you, please contact me via email or telephone 07585 910742 for more information and to arrange an initial consultation.
Copyright, Caroline Clarke – Counsellor in Brighton and Hove.
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