When others won’t speak to you

Words are like autumn leaves. They will fall when they are ready. Photo by GraceHues Photography on Unsplash

We don’t have a God-given right to hear what’s in others’ minds.  Sure, we’d love to know sometimes.  But one of the firmest principles of human rights, is the right to free thinking; and free thinking involves the right to keep your thoughts to yourself until you are ready to share them.

It’s a common problem counsellors face.  We would love to help clients achieve greater happiness.  Just as a car mechanic might want to open the bonnet of a car to see the engine, so a counsellor may wish to open the head of a client to see the patterns of thought.

However, any good counsellor rapidly learns to pace communication.  We learn that a client will communicate at their own pace, and share the things they are happy sharing.  If they hold something back, it can be for good reason.  Maybe they don’t yet trust the listener; or maybe they need more evidence that the counsellor is strong enough to take it.

In close friendships, too, we need to learn to hold back and let others feel their own insides before they account to us for their thoughts.  It can be a very aggressive act to require someone to open up to you before they are ready, like cutting the shell off a snail, or taking a fish out of water.

So when others won’t speak to us, we should remember that the ‘won’t’ is in our heads, not theirs.  We only feel people ‘won’t’ do something when we want them to do it.  We can try to back off, be happier within ourselves, and make the conditions right for sharing (when it’s right for the other).  We can trust their judgement to know when the time is appropriate to open up.