This memory frequently comes back to me in my work with clients. I worked the first shift during my undergraduate studies at a Panera Bread. This meant coming into work at 5 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
My job was to prepare the cafe to open which included slicing loaves of bread and putting all of the bagels and pastries out. One morning my boss came to me and she started telling me everything that was going wrong that morning at the cafe.
I immediately started to apologize and explain what I was going to try and do to fix everything.
I’ll never forget what my boss said next. She said, “I just want you to listen to me”.
She went on to share with me her feelings and I was able to listen to her and validate them.
Often, in situations like this, we want to jump on the defense. At that moment I felt guilty and I wanted to fix everything. In actuality, my boss was not upset or frustrated with me. She was upset and frustrated and wanted to be heard.
By setting aside my own feelings and reactions I was able to hear her and provide for her in that moment what she needed.
I think this often happens in our lives when someone brings something up that we think is about us and so we become defensive. However, when we are able to step outside of ourselves we are able to provide empathy and understanding. There is such healing power in being heard and listened to.
That is something that each of us has the power to impart to those around us and to experience in a powerful way through the therapeutic relationship.