Please Listen

July 19, 2013
This poem beautifully expresses the need for anyone who is sick to be genuinely heard.

We found this poem among some old notes on the relationship between caregivers and patients. There was no name given, but if you happen to know who the author is, we would like to give him or her credit.


When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I asked
nor heard what I need.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems,
you have failed me — strange as that may seem.

Listen, please!
All I asked was that you listen.
Not talk nor “do”—just hear me.
Advice is cheap.
A quarter gets both “Dear Abby” and astrological forecasts
in the same newspaper.
That I can do for myself. I’m not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering — but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to me seeming fearful and weak.

But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel,
no matter how seemingly irrational, then I can quit trying to
convince you and get about to understanding what’s behind
what I am saying and doing — to what I am feeling.

When that’s clear, chances are so will the answers be, and I won’t need any advice. (Or then, I’ll be able to hear it!)

Perhaps that’s why, for some people, prayer works, because God is mute, and doesn’t give advice or try to fix what we must take care of ourselves

So, please listen and just hear me.

And if you want to talk, let’s plan for your turn, and I promise I’ll listen to you.

— Anonymous


Did you enjoy this post?
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