Some of us fulfill the role of "the listener" for our family and friends on a regular basis. Listening to them and aiding them in going through difficult times is one way we show our love for them.
There are times though when we find ourselves scrolling text messages one after the other or sitting through extended phone calls with little energy to spare. Some of us have found ourselves in this predicament more frequently than normal , due to pandemic's consequences , family concerns , and even love problems, leaving us fatigued. This issue isn't meant to be a complaint, but lets figure out a way to express love without becoming an emotional dump.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL DUMPING?
Emotional dumping is used as a strategy of some people to avoid taking responsibility for behavior, circumstances or relationship's state. It's also a means to divert attention away from the genuine difficulties at hand, as a safeguard against entering and embracing a vulnerable state. It is a hazardous method of venting.
Here are a few example of emotional dumping to help you understand how to deal with it.
Repeatedly expressing the same emotions but no solution was sought and no opportunity for input or questioning is provided. This does not result to re-frame, coping or moving on.
Do not allow others to voice their thoughts and ideas about what they are going through.
Fail to inquire about other people's lives to provide a forum for them to seek your counsel.
In an ideal world, when a friend or a family member confides in us about a problem, we feel appreciated because they chose us as their confidante and trusted us enough to open up. Or in any way, we think that listening to them shows our love for them ,right? And more often, we frequently feel obligated to assist in any we can ; we listen empathetically and offer advice, encouragement, or a secure environment for them to express themselves.
But there will be times when you are the target of emotional dumping. In any event, the individual in front of you isn't interested in your opinion, advice , or suggestion. Knowing this will help you decide how to handle future instances of this type of behavior, such as claiming your space, shutting it down, or politely declining to join in a conversation that isn't going anywhere.
Moreover, there are various ways to demonstrate our love for them by not just being an emotional dump friend or relative, but by being a person who can assist them overcome the issues they are facing.
Here are a few things we can do to help:
Lead them to resources that can help them work through their problems. This could be a therapist, life coach, pastor/minister/priest, or physician if needed.
Always be willing to pray whether silently within yourself or together with the troubled person. Prayer does change things.
Be willing to give, but be aware of how much and to what extent you are willing and able to give. This could be time, energy, money, food , etc. But always ask clarifying questions so that you have a good understanding of what is being asked or expected. Then you set your parameters and make sure your friend or loved one knows what to expect from you. " Expectation minus reality = disappointment"- Randy Carlson, Intentional Living.
Setting time and space constraint. Loving and caring for the people in our lives does not excuse monopolizing or manipulating your time. Listen for trigger words/phrases like "I wish you could", or , "If you could only", or , "I really just need you ".
When empathic listening becomes "can you fix it for me? ", Stop, and start doing what is listed above.