We live in an age of self-help. The Internet has seen an explosion of self-help books, DVDs and even online guides. We can’t just blame the Internet. Self-help books (real books) were being printed many years before the Internet arrived, and some of those were very good.
There is a common thread that runs through all the counseling, even self-help, and that thread is communications. One of the first skills a counselor learns is listening – empathetic listening. This a skill that couples need to learn early on if they hope for any form of counseling to work. Self-help relies a couple being able to listen to what their partner has to say, and to listen with empathy.
When a couple first starts counseling, the first thing that to comes to the surface is that lack of listening. I’ll go a step further: Often they don’t want to listen; they would rather hear their own voices. Counselors really do act as referees early on, trying to get one partner to remain silent so the other partner can have their say.
How much empathy do you have when your partner is trying to voice their opinion? Do you constantly butt in and not allow them to have their say? While listening is an important skill to learn, the very first skill to learn is how to listen – that is, how to listen without interrupting your partner.
Self-help can be easy, or it can be hard – it is really up to you. Being positive, committed and ready to make changes are attitudes you need to bring to any self-help session. Are you committed to making change if you need to?