Margotte Kaczanowska | Psychotherapist | M.A., S.T.S.R.,  RSW, Member of OACCPP

This website wishes to contribute to Narrative Therapy practices with articles and information in English and in Polish

Teaching Each Other: Private People


When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving advice
you are not done what I asked.

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 problem,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I asked, was that you listen,
not talk, nor do - just hear me,
Advice is cheap: 10 cents will get you Dear Abby and
Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself: I am 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 my fear and weakness.

But, when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational, that I can quit trying to convince
you and can get about the business of understanding what’s
behind this irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious
and I don’t need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what’s
behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes, for some people
Because God is mute, and he does not give advice
or try to fix things. He “just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.”

So please listen and just hear me.  And, if you want to talk,
Wait a minute for your turn: and I’ll listen to you.

This poem was written by a mental health consumer who was institutionalised over a number of years in Queensland. He wishes to remain anonymous.