As human beings, we have a basic need to have someone listen when we talk. We yearn to be heard. When someone hears us, we have completed a circuit. We reached out, and someone was there.

When no one is there to hear us, the circuit is not complete and we feel frustrated and lonely. If someone is not there often enough, we may stop reaching out. When we stop reaching out, we have in a very real sense begun to lose contact with the world.

When we lose contact with the world, bad things happen.

When no one is listening, we try many ways to make ourselves heard. One common way is to get louder. Sometimes this works, but more often it just makes the listener irritated. Irritated people usually don’t listen any better. They often stop listening altogether and just start getting louder themselves. Now we have a vicious circle in which everybody gets progressively louder and nobody is listening.

Another way to make yourself heard is to pay someone to listen. Billions of dollars are spent every year on counselors by people desperate to be heard. The need is recognized to the point that there are often free counselors available for those who cannot afford to pay.

You might think counselors are there to solve problems. That is a desirable result, but not necessarily the primary goal.

What counselors really do is LISTEN.

What happens when you first go to a counselor? You TALK. And the counselor LISTENS. Then the counselor may say, “How does that make you feel?” Then you talk some more and the counselor listens. The counselor may make some suggestions and you may act on them. Problem may be solved. But the important thing is SOMEONE HEARD YOU.

Many years ago when I was a young mother raising five children, you can be sure not many people were interested in what I personally had to say. As I had some issues to work on, at one point I found myself in group therapy. When it was my turn to talk, I explained what was going on in my life. Then the counselor said, “What I hear you saying is…” I don’t remember the rest of that statement. I was so completely shocked that someone had HEARD me.

The world is full of people needing to be heard. Many could find their own answers if only they had someone who could listen for a moment.

The sad thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. This is where you and I come in. It doesn’t cost anything to listen. You don’t have to have answers.  You don’t need any great talent. All you have to do is listen.

It is one of the kindest things you can do for another person.