My memory isn’t flawless.
When I was 2 maybe 3 years old, I crawled into bed with my mom. I used to like holding onto her ear and falling asleep. I felt safe and happy.
When I was 4 I would listen to Xuxa on my cassette player and dance around everywhere. The hallway, the street, the sofa. I remember it was one of my favorite things to do because it was so much fun and I would laugh and feel joy.
For my birthday last year, grandma baked me a delicious chocolate cake, my name in green frosting, and when I walked into the bedroom there was a GIANT balloon that sung me happy birthday for weeks after the moment had passed. I cried.
I don’t remember what anyone was wearing, what the date was, what the weather was like, what color the wall was painted. What I do remember is how I felt. I remember that these are good, happy memories.
When my mom talks about the adventures she would go on with her best friend Anna, she can summarize what they did and what was said, there will even be a few details that stick out in her memory, but what makes her eyes gloss over, what she’s reliving in those moments, is the feeling.
How silly she and Anna felt as they got lost for the third going up the mountain, how they laughed when they got stuck in the rain, and what great conversations they had at the top. Soaked and cold, and happy and connected.
This is true for most people. You won’t remember most of the details. What stays with you is the feeling.
I can be the first person to distinguish between logical thought and emotions in a conversation. To people that don’t know me, I used to come off cold where I’d be trying to be rational. In my desire to be helpful, when someone would come to me, I’d immediately start separating how they felt from what was going on and start thinking about a solution. I assumed what worked for me would work best for everyone else too.
This is why it’s so important to realize that there is emotion under every conversation. This is why it’s so important to empathize.
Unless someone asks, I no longer try to be helpful. Instead, I try to just be.
Be a good listener. Be in their shoes. Be understanding.
There will be plenty of time for discussion. When it comes to the people you care about most, it’s better to end the conversation feeling connected than being right.
Listen with the intention of understanding and speak with the intention of being kind. Remember that how you make them feel, is what they will remember too.