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Counseling Friends
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Two friends of mine are at odds with each other, neither of them particularly skilled in interpersonal relationships, compassion, forgiveness. I'm not a professional counselor, but I'm often sought out to listen.

Listening well is a skill unto itself. It involves active understanding and empathy; restraint from offering advice; insights of my own where (or if) appropriate.

My natural inclination, when there's a problem, is to want to "fix" it, whatever it is. However, if there's one thing I've learned in seven decades of living, there's no such thing as "fixing" relationships, only support and understanding and perhaps the occasional question which might illuminate something only dimly seen by the participants.

My heart goes out to both my friends. There is a giant misunderstanding between them; my trying to explain it would only meet with defensiveness and anger. My hope is that, given enough venting time separately to drain off the anger, they can then talk to each other and mend fences.

It's exhausting work, time-consuming, heart-shredding. I must admit I'm quailing at the thought of meeting with each of them today, but individually (one last night, the other this morning) they've turned to me and I can hardly refuse. I live to be of service to others.

Such is the life of a compassionate introvert. I think the Buddha was one such; seeing the pain of the world and knowing that only insight and compassion can heal.

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