Put a Pause on Your Own Sob Story: Let’s Try Being Better Listeners

Remember that time when you feel completely overwhelmed by some situation in your life, a fight, some family upheaval, employment issue, health or emotional trauma? You really want to let some steam off, and vent your heart and soul out. You expect some sort of relief, a sense of direction or at least a sympathetic listener. In fact you feel so stressed that you actually end up pouring out in front of a friend, colleague or family member only to have them make a scoring match of who’s got the better sob story.

Sounds familiar? Probably been there either at the receiving end or the volunteering, “Here’s my list of grievances,” bit. If you venture to talk about an ailment, they want you to know how they braved a deadly disease and didn’t complain even a wee bit, if it’s not their own case, they decide to tell you about some other family member or acquaintance or at times even a public figure who out shined you by his or her patience and iron will. You seek comfort and get to hear how small your issue really is, how ungrateful your stance is and how exponentially better equipped they are in sorting their life out.

And if you are a woman then you get treated to a tirade of long drawn life experiences of all those hardworking mothers and daughters of yesteryears who endured much and said very little. You are reminded that they lived in an age where there were no diapers and instant food and no gadgets that made life easier. If you have a job then you get pointers on how much easier it would be if you resorted to being a homebody. Your stress levels are then attributed to your lazy, selfish lifestyle and an excess of free time at hand that you have deliberately misused in stressing out about useless things.

Do we really have the right to assume that somebody’s response to a given circumstance is uncalled for? Isn’t it unfair to judge others on the basis of our individual responses?


Can we not for that brief moment hit the pause button on our own grievances and just patiently fine tune those darling implements we call ears and LISTEN. I use the term ‘We’ because I have been guilty of doing this too. Sometimes all we intend to do is provide the comforting notion, “You are not the only one going through a rough patch, I’ve been there too and you will sail through the way I did.” But we forget that all of us have a completely unique emotional quotient and the dynamics of our reactions are all very different. We are not an assembly line production and respond differently to the same pressure tests.

I might not be able to cope with the same situation the way you do, my internal wiring is specific to me only. I do not mean to say that we shouldn’t learn from other people’s experiences. We should and we must. We have support groups to allow people to learn from others who have gone through the same trying situations in life. But people who join these groups have decided that they want to hear about others who went through the same ordeal. Someone who just seeks you out to lighten his or her emotional baggage, needs only that much and a little empathy perhaps.

Sometimes being a good listener is all it takes to add a little sunshine to someone’s bad day. We need to listen with a patient, and empathizing ear and without the intention to judge. The more attention you give, the more attuned your mind becomes to the speaker’s emotional cues and this really helps you to know when and how to respond. If you do not really have any useful advice or words of comfort to offer then perhaps the act of listening calmly itself might be the greatest help.

You might be going through a bigger and more trying ordeal, but you don’t really have to talk about it at that moment. Someone trusts you enough to seek you in a time of need and that’s a real blessing and a big compliment to you. Hope we can all work on our emotional intelligence and perk up our ears for some sincere listening next time.

Have you been through something like this? Is there an experience that you care to share? Our little experiences, and what we learn through them at times shine out a tiny beacon for someone else.




39 thoughts on “Put a Pause on Your Own Sob Story: Let’s Try Being Better Listeners

  1. Manal Soherwardy

    Precisely and accurately on target. May we become better listeners and never undermine anyone’s pain no matter how miniscule it sounds. Thank you for this piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG I just had this conversation with my father. I poured my heart out, which is not something I normally do to him and he started to tell me about a similar problem. I stopped him and said just listen to me, I need you to just listen. It was the first time he admitted he was wrong and just listened. Sometimes people are just tone death.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. robin masshole mommy

    I had a friend who was a one upper. No matter what I said – good or bad -she had a better story. Finally I got tired of it and stopped being friends with her.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Almas Khan

    Agree agree…have a couple of friends who only wait for the conversation to get over so that they can begin with their narration and stories.. at times interrupt as they r too eager to start theirs !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mahevash

    Right through the heart. What a thought provoking article. This is so much of a reflection of many of our personalities.
    Been there and done this.
    It takes a lot to rise above and make your self learn to listen. Listening is an art or skill which should be inculcated in the good manners list taught to every little child .
    Loved the read and I will remember this each time I am reverting back to my ‘ I know it all, you better listen to what I have to say’ self.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, we all have that ” I think I know better” self in us to some extent. Takes a good deal of effort to keep it in check. Alhamdulillah our faith really helps us do precisely that.


  6. Mehtab

    An Amazing Article. I like the way you come up with articles which are not the usual kind. You tend to think out of the box & let us into your world of thought provoking articulation. It was a good idea to pen down such a beautiful thought into a perfect write up & let us get again inspired & motivated towards a wonderful aspect of self development which though not so well known nowadays as most of us only want to blow our own trumpets or our own gigantic grievances to others rather than listen to the others pain or their story. Listening is a skill if developed would really help an individual to become humble & empathize with others in a better way.
    Loved this unique well scripted article. Do keep us amazed dear Sis with more wonders of that beautiful mind of yours…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my dearest sis! Your comments always brighten my day! You really keep my spirits up. Yes, listening is a quintessential skill and is often disregarded. I really aim to become a better and mindful listener.


  7. Great blog post. I know a few people who could benefit from reading. We are all guilty sometimes of subjecting our own thoughts/feelings/opinions overtop of someone else’s story, but this is a good reminder of how important listening actually is. I find that the more I listen, the more I actually enjoy listening. I thinks it’s a good habit to get into. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Farhat

    Thanx for your post… I read it and it was very difficult for us to be…or not to be …
    This is very new research with promising results for feeling another’s pain.iam more interested to know how to manage or atleast listen the pain i feel any time i see someone in pain.Thank u sis….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would probably be the intention while sharing a similar story but doesn’t go down well if the recipient already feels swamped by his own troubles. The worst part is when you downplay their ordeal and sound condescending. We all have our different experiences to each situation😊


  9. A lot of my friends come to me when they are going through something because I am a good listener. I am a pretty private person, so I don’t usually share much about what I am going through. Maybe that is why they come to me, because I listen intently and offer advice without talking about myself. Sometimes I don’t have any advice at all because I haven’t been in their situation, but just being a friend and listening is sometimes the best thing you can do. Thank you for this thought provoking post!


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Elizabeth O.

    This is very well said. Often times, we put out struggles and concerns ahead of others. It would be nice to just take a step back and listen instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s amazing what listening can do especially for a person who really needs someone to listen at the moment. It’s a skill that we all must learn and it’s a gift that we can easily give people without effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Now I realized why my friends doesn’t mind sharing their problems with me – because am a good listener, and gave them objective, with-a-heart kind of advice.

    Well, they save a lot of $$$ compared to going to their therapists 🙂



  13. Anwar khan

    Once again a superb article . You have selected a very common subject from the day to day life which has a great meaning and deep effect on us. If everybody starts being a good Listener then the sorrows, pain,discomforts and unhappiness will vanish from the society. We should try to understand others difficulties and should console them and help them to overcome such situations… Good topic ……


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