Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Listening vs Understanding

 Photo courtesy of LexnGer
Photo courtesy of LexnGer
"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." - Stephen R. Covey
I stumbled across this quote recently and immediately I thought, wow, this is SO TRUE for infertility! How many times have I opened my heart to share our story, only to hear advice or rude comments? I think what people don't realize is that I share my story to seek understanding; I don't share because I need advice or reassurance that things will "work out in the end". The advice, though well-intentioned, is usually unnecessary. I've already done countless hours of research and have seen 3 specialists to get the advice I was looking for. And reassurance isn't really helpful either. Because I know that not every story ends the way we want it to.

For the few who have listened, and I mean REALLY listened, I want to say thank you. Thank you for opening up your hearts and your minds not just to hear me out, but to gain understanding of something that you may have no experience with. By understanding even a little piece of what I'm going through,you can then give support. And support is all that I'm looking for.

What does support look like? Support is the simple understanding that I'm going through something difficult and life changing, and that you have made the decision to be there for me. Whether it's being a shoulder to cry on, the stable presence to listen when I need to vent, or just to be able to say "I'm so sorry you're going through this, I'm here for you." That's really all I need. That lets me know that you care enough to listen, and to try to understand.

When I share my story, I'm not looking for sympathy, or advice, or to hear about your sister's best friend's cousins daughter who went through this. I'm sharing because 1) I want to raise awareness and 2) I'm looking for supporters. People who I can trust to be there for me when I break. The people who can show me love and compassion when things don't work out as I hoped they would. Those are the people who will be the first to share in my joy if/when we reach the end of this journey, because they're the ones who helped get me through it.

For those of you who have trouble listening to understand, please try to open your hearts and your minds. Try to seek out new ways to see the world in which we live in, and please be compassionate towards others who have made difficult choices that you may never have to face. By seeking a greater understanding of others, you may come to realize that you gain a better understanding of yourself.


  1. I don't mind at all! Thank you so much for sharing. I absolutely love your blog!

  2. Thank you! :-) and thank you for coming over to my blog. I'll enjoy following your journey to motherhood and really hope that you get there soon.

  3. You're so right that the best way to support anyone going through infertility is to just listen. No advice, no trying to pretend that you understand- just listening. I'm fine with people asking questions as long as it's not advice in the form of question. Thanks for linking up at my blog this week.