Photo credit: iStockphoto. Used with permission.

“Wow that sounds like lots to take on, girlie,” I was on the phone with my dear friend. She was telling me that things have become so hectic in her life lately. As she continued, I knew exactly what her issue was – she was overwhelmed (again) and had taken on too much (again). I wanted to help, to lend my thoughts but something inside me said, “just listen, do nothing.” Spirit has an amazing way of slowing you down. I think this because while my friend was lamenting about her situation, I was checking my kids homework, actively listening for the buzzer from the dryer, and planning the next day meals…. all while listening to her.

Yeah, my mind gets pretty crowded at times.

Truth is, I am a good listener, and I do want to help. If there’s a problem, I have a need to fix it or at least offer up an opinion. And sometimes errr most of the time okay-okay majority of the time, I try to take over. I can’t help it. I have the uncontrollable urge to right wrongs, to balance things out and even offer a swift kick in the caboose, if necessary …. I have a helping tick.

Hopefully not a neurotic control freak tick.

I knew it got out of hand when I was bombarded one day by six different people, all whom wanted to talk with me. “You’re such a great listener,” they all started.  And as I held six different conversations and offered up six different perspectives, I slowly began to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. After each conversation, my heart became heavier and heavier. I could feel the energy leave my body, and as I finished the final talk I was no longer sitting upright, rather slouched over using my hands to prop errr rest my head. I was ticked out.

What’s worse is I had the uncontrollable urge to cry. I thought, “oh my gawd, I’m having a breakdown.” But Spirit intervenes, as she always does, and reassured me that I was fine, but my helping tick was getting me in trouble.

Has this happened to you? Do you find yourself not only listening but internalizing what people share with you?

I realized that listening only entails a sincere act on my part to allow my friends to vent. I need not say anything. I also realized that listening and being a good friend does not always require me to fix their issues. I need not do anything. I’m just a conduit.

I still have the helping tick; I can’t just turn it off. I still have the incredible impulse to dive in and take over but I’ve found that I’m actually a better friend by keeping that urge in check.  I only use my powers when it’s absolutely necessary. It’s a win-win: my friends get the best listener – and I’m happy to do that – I, in turn, get my mind and my posture back.

4 thoughts on “Tick-Tick-Boom

  1. beverlydiehl

    So sorry, I am running behind on LIFE.

    Love this post. One tool I am *beginning* to learn how to use, is the question. Because I am a fixer, too. I think I’ve felt all the symptoms of overload you’ve described.

    So, at the beginning of one of the convo’s, I am *learning* to jump in and ASK, “Are you looking for suggestions and ideas, or are you just needing to vent?” I always want to “be there” of rmy friends and loved ones, but I don’t want to be “helping them” in ways they don’t need to be helped.

    I don’t always remember to ask. But I am getting better at it,

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