Our 7 Day Challenge

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We’ve all done it and it’s been done to all of us.  It goes something like this: you’re talking with a friend or family member and you tell them about something that is stressful, disappointing or upsetting.  They respond by telling you how equally, or more so, they are stressed, disappointed or upset about something in their life.  You might say “I am feeling overwhelmed and have a lot of anxiety right now.  Life just feels really hard.”  They might respond “Oh, I know what you mean.  My life has never been as stressful as it is now…..”  It’s like they never even heard you but continue on with their own narrative which says their situation is at least as difficult as yours so don’t feel so bad.  It has become a pet peeve of mine.  And truth be told, I am as guilty of doing it as anyone else.  But I sure do hate when it’s done to me!
As I’ve reflected on this over the past week I decided to challenge all of us to make a change, including myself.  For the next 7 days when someone, anyone, tells you about what’s bothering them, about their stressful day, their broken heart, their anxiety or some bad news they received… pause.  During that pause separate yourself and your own circumstances from theirs.  Then only… and I do mean only… acknowledge what they shared and validate it.  Don’t try to relate their situation to one of your own.  Don’t enter into a who is more stressed and overwhelmed contest.  Don’t talk about yourself at all!  Simply acknowledge their feelings and encourage them with some positive (but not dismissive) words.  You might say something like “Wow, I’m so sorry to hear that.  Thank you for sharing with me.  I’m here to listen any time.”  Or “That sounds really hard, I can see why you are overwhelmed.  We can’t lose hope because you will make it through this and I am here to support you.”  You get the idea.  
You will be amazed at how this kind of response will impact those around you.  And you will be equally amazed at how good it feels when those around you respond to you like this when you share something that’s weighing on you.  
It’s 7 day challenge.  We will do it together.  Start now and tell me how it goes!

By Lisa Smith

SMFT Lisa #1 (1)

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