Sitting with someone that’s crying is hard. It’s very hard. We have a natural tendency to want to swoop in and fix the situation and ease the pain. But when we offer a tissue, move in for a hug, or start spouting off nonsense about how it could be worse (regardless of how true it might be), we may actually be doing a disservice to the person that is in tears.
Time and space, although both often an illusion (but that’s for another blog), are critical to understanding self and others. Mother Teresa said, “See the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
Learning to sit in silence with others takes lots and lots of practice. It’s hard to know how long to just sit and be quiet, to just sit and “share space” with someone. Often, no… actually almost always, however, if you sit quietly, for just a little bit longer, the person that is struggling will come to some sort of realization, some sort of conclusion, some sort of ah-ha moment. And they will come to it all on their own. Simply because you gave them the time and space to do so. Simply because you sat silently, supporting them by just being present with them.
It’s like following someone down a winding path. There are many twists and turns and crossroads. There are cool things to look at and there are things that might seem creepy and scary. But it’s up to the person whose path it is to choose which way to go, what to spend time looking at, and how to navigate the journey. When we quietly walk with someone on their path simply as a support and/or a cheerleader, they are given the time and space to choose what makes sense for them. And since it is THEIR path, it’s important that they decide. But they need silence.
Clients often come to therapy hoping that the therapist will give them the answers they so desperately want and need. But that’s not the job of a therapist. The job of a therapist is to help the client understand that all of the answers they could ever possibly need are within. It is the job of a therapist to help foster confidence and self-love so that the client can believe in him/herself and trust that amazingly powerful and gifted inner-voice that is more commonly known as instinct. But they need silence to hear this voice.
Silence is really a gift. It’s an opportunity to hear your own truth, your own reality, your own inspiration. Silence doesn’t necessarily mean that someone isn’t listening. It often means that they are hearing you and hearing that you need time and space to figure something out. Or it means that they themselves need silence to figure it out themselves.