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Okay, so, I'm twenty-two years old and I study all aspects of psychology at uni. Oh yes! I do psycho-analyse people. Oh no! I don't read people’s minds. I get it a lot; would you believe it?
My childhood was moderately stable with the odd memory of minor abuse, neglect, trauma, loneliness, happiness, laughs, and love. My dad was in and out my life, along with my eldest sister and brother. My mum was and is the best mum she could be. I also have a sister that is like a twin, we're two completely different people but we're so unbelievably close.
I've self-harmed, had a drinking and drug problem, been in abusive relationships, confusing family relations, alongside with good old depression and anxiety disorder. It all sounds quite bleak, but I promise you, I'm relatively sane. The reason why I'm telling you this is so you understand I can relate to you maybe at least on one level, what many of you, might have been or are going through. I'm here to hopefully bring you comfort and a bit of advice.
I've found that people like to confide and trust, not all can do this but when they find that they can trust, it's freeing and comforting. Having the capability to empathise and advise feels 110 percent more powerful than control and intimidation. When you learn how to empower others, you learn to empower yourself. But unfortunately, this is where a lot of individuals struggle, like me.
A friend will approach me with a problem, maybe a failing relationship or maybe even just the capacity to understand some emotions they may be feeling. I try to help everyone as each time I help someone through something I learn something new either about myself or just in general.
I remember a work colleague approached me discussing built up frustration and that he couldn’t pinpoint where those feelings and emotions were coming from. All he knew was that he felt very angry and frustrated all of the time. Empathising is one of the strongest ways you can start off a conversation like this. I knew if he felt I was listening, empathising and understood what he was saying, he would then be able to open up a little more with confidence and trust.
There’s a difference between empathy and sympathy and people can tell too, especially us sensitive ones. We can tell when people are looking from afar and say “Oh! I see it's tough down there, that’s a shame” and the people that say “Oh, I see its tough down there, I’ve been there, you’re not alone and it’s okay.”
Back to my colleague, when we were both on the same level of understanding we could then start to question where and when he felt these emotions. By simply asking these questions in a soothing way, this gives him even more confidence to speak out as all we are seemingly doing is lightly touching on curiosity, we now both have.
Naturally, people, in general, want to know that what they are feeling is normal and there is no form of judgement. There never should be when people talk about how they’re feeling but unfortunately there are biases. Biases such as individuals in relationships or close family which is why therapists tend to stay away from friends and relatives of any kind. This is absolutely okay and understandable because we can’t help people who are afraid of judgement, can we?
One of the most frequently asked questions in psychology and life is; how can we advise others but cannot apply this advice to ourselves?
To be continued…