I read Adam McHugh’s Listening Life for my Spiritual Formation class this semester at Talbot. My cohort discusses this book nearly every week, and last week, my leader mentioned this sentence where the author described how he wants to run anytime emotions enter a conversation.
That thought seemed odd to me. Why would you want to run away from a conversation when people get emotional? People connect through emotions: happiness leads to fun, sadness leads to mutual grieving, and even anger leads to intentionality. According to the Art of Charm, you can’t truly listen to someone without connecting with them emotionally.
Life is dry without emotions, and fear of emotions leads to a lack of empathy. Yes, some emotions like depression and anger are more difficult to deal with. However, tuning into someone’s emotions helps us truly understand them. For instance, someone who becomes angry at a person for not showing up somewhere on time values punctuality. Someone who becomes ecstatic when they jump in a pool loves swimming. Someone who cries when others leave them out of activities wants to feel included.
I don’t know, maybe it’s the empathic nature in me, but I LOVE hearing others’ emotions. Anger can make me feel uncomfortable at times, but I will gladly sit with someone battling depression or listen to another person tell a cheesy story about something that happened to them that day.
That’s why I just don’t get it when people don’t want to listen to each other. Yes, emotions can drain you. What I don’t understand is this “cutting people out of your life because they’re toxic trend.”
Wait…so, this person clearly needs help, and you want to cut them out of your life?
Instead of cutting these “toxic” people out of our life, we should ask them what’s really going on––why do they keep posting things that are sad? Why do they keep complaining about a certain issue? Why do they constantly post their political opinions?
Life is about helping others, not looking out solely for your emotional needs. No, you don’t need to read every last thing someone posts, but you don’t have to completely cut them out of your life either.
This is why I want to become a counselor. So many people don’t have a person who will help them process their emotions, even if it means listening to the person repeatedly say the same thing. I want to understand people––the way they think, feel, and act. I want to help them get through difficult times and help them become the person God created them as. Instead of contributing to the isolationist culture in America, I want to embrace a culture of community.