Why Everyone Needs a Listening Ear

A Valued Listener
Part 1 of 2

“I just want to be left alone right now.”

“You're always nagging me – asking me questions about the very things I don’t want to talk about!”

“No, as a matter of fact, I didn’t pass my test.”

“Why does he have to bully me every single day? He makes my life completely miserable. What a jerk!”

 “Okay, so I shouldn’t have said that! Won’t anyone just once – JUST ONCE – allow me a “do-over?”

Have you had thoughts similar to these at times? Even flat out said similar things? Of course you have – you’re human – all of us have these thoughts and feelings, especially when we're young. Life can be very frustrating at times.

But as hard as it is, in a strange sort of way, these feelings are a good thing. Your frustrations are simply a sign that you are growing up and starting to learn to be an adult. No longer are all your choices being made for you. Now, and for the foreseeable future, you're going to be taking on more and more responsibilities and, with those, comes more pressure. This is simply the way life works.

School – Where the Pressure Begins

When you stop and think about it, your real responsibilities, and the accompanying pressure, probably began for you on your first day of school…and have mounted from there. Entire periods filled with lectures, homework every day, and tests – yes, you get it, it’s a big deal to do well on the standardized tests. Ever since that first bell rang in elementary school, it has felt as if you've been put into a pressure cooker!

You get it – school is your full-time job right now (how could you not? Your parents remind you of this nonstop). But you must understand that school really is very important – not only does it provide you with the knowledge you need to navigate the world as an adult, but how well you do in school is often a measure of how well you will do as an adult and with your chosen career. The more effort you put toward school right now, the more you will be rewarded as you go through college and then the working world. That’s a truth you can hopefully take to the bank! 

Expect the Pressure to Continue to Grow

To be brutally honest, while school is the beginning point, pressure will continue to come from many sources. The teachers – we’ve discussed that – and then there are more and more expectations from your parents. Coaches or other instructors seem to live and breathe their sports and activities – and now they're expecting you to do the same. Even your fellow students begin to form cliques (are you going be a part of that nonsense?). And social media is coming at you with blinding speed – Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and texting are in motion 24/7.

“How did all this happen so fast, and when am I going to get a chance to take a breath?” you’re wondering, “Is it too much to ask to be left alone for a while – to just relax, listen to some music or simply sit in silence, maybe even take a nap?”  

Again, all these thoughts running through your mind are completely normal. And no, it’s not too much to ask for some alone time. There is nothing wrong with sitting in silence for a while, or even taking that power nap. Everyone – from babies to adults – needs this time. In fact, it's very important that you make time for yourself. It’s a very good idea to take some time each day and catch your breath, relax, think about the day’s events, and plan your evening and next day. Not too much alone time, but 30 to 45 minutes a day can help you organize your thoughts and plan your activities for the next day and possibly the coming week.

Pressure Is a Part of Life

“None of us can be free of conflict and woe.
Even the greatest individuals have had to accept disappointments in their daily life.”
Bernard M. Baruch

Everyone feels pressure from time to time. Pressure is simply a part of life. No one is immune from the feeling. There is no magic pill that you can take to eliminate pressure from your life. Everybody has to learn to handle it – and that means learning to navigate the demands of school, parents, coaches, friends, the Internet, and much more.

But there is good news! You don’t have to go it alone – and you shouldn’t. Your best option for handling pressure is to find someone you can trust – a valued listener/mentor - to help you discuss and work your way through difficult periods in your life. 

We All Need a Valued Listener

With results being released just last year, a five-year study sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada proved that finding a mentor can not only help you make your way through daily pressure, but can also help you turn these difficult years into some of your best. The study found that youths with a mentor – someone to talk to from time to time – were more confident and got into less trouble than those without one. Also, those using a mentor felt more self-assured about classroom performance and less anxiety about peer pressure. So, heed this study and start to think who this person is, or could be, in your life.

You need someone with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings. You need a special person who will listen to you and talk to you confidentially, and provide you with some insights about life and specific guidance should you need it. Identifying a mentor is not a sign of weakness – to the contrary, it’s a sign of intelligence and strength. The old saying, “no man is an island” is true (ever think about how many people the president of the United States uses to help him with his daily pressure? It’s in the dozens).

So in your own case, who is this listener/mentor going to be? This is going to be one of the most important choices you'll make. Ideally, it could be a family member (parent or older sibling). However, it could also be a teacher, coach, counselor, or youth leader at your place of worship. Really, it can be any adult whom you know well, respect, and trust.  In Part Two – How to Find Someone to Listen – we help you explore possibilities and select a mentor/listener for those times that you just need someone to talk to.

A Life-Long Need

And one more thing – we never out grow our need for a valued listener. No matter what our age, each of us can benefit from having someone we can turn to at important or stressful times or when we're making an important choice. This may not be the same person for your lifetime (most likely will not be), but you'll always benefit from having someone special who'll listen to what you have to say and, when needed, provide you with important insights of directions. 

“A prudent person profits from personal experience;
a wise one from the experience of others.”
Dr. Joseph Collins

Written by Shawn Jackson


Part 2
How to Find Someone Who Listens
A Valued Listener

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