Listen to Me, Don't Judge Me
Everyone wants to feel like their voice is being heard, that they can share their thoughts, opinions, worries, and feelings without being judged by someone else. This is especially true for those of us who live with psoriatic arthritis. Having a safe and supportive environment to air my worries, pain, and frustrations is very important to me. Having someone to listen, without judging me, is priceless. Instead of simply listening, it feels like everyone wants to “fix” me.
How do well-meaning suggestions imply judgment?
If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard the well-meaning phrase, “Well, if you would just…” I cringe inside knowing what the end of that statement will be…
Try these oils
Eat these foods
Don’t eat these foods
See this doctor
Try holistic medicine
Stand on your head during a full moon while drinking pickle juice...
While well-meaning, all of these statements imply judgment. How? Well, helpful suggestions like these imply that this disease, and the havoc it wreaks, is somehow my fault. It implies that I’m not doing all I can reasonably do to improve my condition. These suggestions imply an inherent judgment that I’m doing something wrong which is causing my pain. I’m not eating the right food. I’m not exercising enough. I’m not seeing the right doctor. I’m not taking the right medicine. I haven’t explored all of my options. If only I did this, if only I did that... Instead of placing the blame where it should lie, with the disease itself.
Empathy and understanding
I don’t need one more well-meaning person offering hope in the form of uninformed suggestions in my life; I need someone to simply listen and offer empathy and understanding. Help me to feel less alone in all of this. Allow me to vent my pains, my frustrations, my anxiety, without feeling the need to fix it. Without judgment.
The value of community support when you have psoriatic arthritis
This is why support groups and communities are so instrumental in maintaining emotional health while living with psoriatic arthritis. Everyone needs someone in their life to listen without judgment, without feeling like they need to fix it. Someone who they feel understands what they are going through. Someone who doesn’t assign blame for the fatigue and pain that comes with psoriatic arthritis.
How can you listen to someone with PsA without judging them?
Understanding is key- It is not enough to simply hear the words someone is saying. Listen actively and understand the thoughts they are trying to convey. Don’t try and fix the problem, don’t negate their feelings. Simply understand what they are saying.
Respect is a must- If you don’t respect the person sharing their thoughts, there is no way to respect their point of view or to find value in what they have to say.
Every experience is unique- Just because standing on your head at midnight while drinking pickle juice helped you, doesn’t mean that it will help everyone. Share your experience and insight but know that everyone is unique. What works for one person might not work for another.
What’s the takeaway here?
When my psoriatic arthritis is causing me pain, when the associated anxiety and depression make it difficult to do the things that I enjoy, having a sympathetic and understanding ear helps ease my pain and feel less alone. I need someone who will let me rant and rave about the injustice of living with this disease. I need someone who will let me whine and complain when I feel like garbage. Being understanding and empathetic is more helpful than any suggestions that could ever be given.
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