“Don’t just do something! Sit there!”
No, the above statement is not a typo and or a mistake. While it does indeed sound counterintuitive, the reality is that many times all we really need to do is sit there. Sit there and listen to what the patients are trying to say when they use their eating disorder behaviors. Sit there and observe the patients when they are tearful and crying. Sit there and note the way the patients look away, slump their shoulders, and or shake their legs. Sit there and empathize with the patients that they are struggling at the moment and petrified of what is to come.
Don’t get me wrong, it definitely feels more natural to do something. To give a hug, a kiss, a shoulder to cry on, a piece of advice, a command, a book to read, a movie to watch. It feels good to be proactive, to feel as though you are taking control of such a frightening, overwhelming experience. It seems logical, almost imperative, that action is taken at all times.
However, as the old saying goes, “silence is golden,” and many times, just sitting there is taking action, as you’re actively listening, observing, noting, and empathizing with the patients. Patients so badly want to be heard, to feel important and matter. And what better way to grant them that right than sitting back and listening?
So, next time, don’t stop, drop, and roll. Just stop and drop and I can assure you, the rolling will ensue effortlessly.
Content provided by Talia Becker, LCSW