In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, after the Physiological needs and Safety needs comes the need for Love and Belonging. Being felt, seen, and heard go a long way towards supporting a sense of Love and Belonging (as well as supporting Esteem and Self-actualization which are needs four and five).
The irony is that when people try to “help” us, they often skip the step of hearing us. They may see us struggling and charge in as a Knight in Shining Armor without understanding what we need. Without taking the time to ask questions and listen.
Often, we are all capable of helping ourselves. We just need someone to hold a space where we can feel felt, seen, and heard and activate the will within us to act.
To paraphrase Dr. Rachel Remen:
When I try to help a person, I see them as weaker than me. When I try to fix a person, I see them as broken. But when I aim to serve, I understand that their suffering is my suffering, and their joy is my joy, so I serve as an equal. A fellow traveller in life.
The truth is, deeply listening without acting is often more uncomfortable and more difficult than springing into action to “help.” And that more difficult act, of holding space to listen without acting, is what most of us really need from each other.24 May 2022