The Practice of Understanding

Often when someone we care about is distressed, we are tempted to give advice. Occasionally, this is even helpful. But the times when it is helpful are surprisingly rare. When we are distressed, our most important need is often simply to feel that someone understands. When someone understands, we don’t feel so alone, and that already begins to change our state of mind. When someone gives advice, often the advice is out of touch and reactive, and we feel even more alone than ever, as well as misunderstood. There is neurology underlying this. When the limbic brain or emotional brain is agitated, it can’t be calmed by logic or reasoning. But when we feel understood, the agitation can beg

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