Communication Can Make a World of Difference
When it comes to solving life’s problems, there is no greater medicine than communication. Whether you’re dealing with addiction, a mental health issue or something else entirely, communication can solve literally any challenge that you’re faced with.
A great man once said:
“Communication is the solvent of all things. Communication dissolves all things.”
And, it’s this quote that I often find myself coming back to over and over again. Whenever a new problem arises, this quote comes to mind to remind me that with a little communication anything can be solved.
What Exactly is Communication?
While you may think you know what communication is, do you really? And, are you doing it effectively? The short answer is that you probably aren’t.
Communication in its simplest form can be defined as an accomplishment that has led to a much deeper understanding of life itself.
Alright, perhaps that idea is a lot to take in—especially if you’ve been running around simply thinking that just letting words flow out of your mouth is actually communication. Because quite frankly, it’s not.
In all actuality, effective communication takes some effort, which many do not put forth. As a result, problems begin to arise, miscommunication occurs, anger flares up and the next thing you know you’re ready to punch a hole in the wall (or worse).
Think about this for a minute. If you throw a ball, but the other person does not know that you threw the ball, did you effectively toss the ball to them? No, you didn’t. You probably smacked them in the face with it and no one enjoys being smacked in the face with a ball (or words). Instead, you should ensure you get the person’s their attention on the ball and has the intention of catching it.
The same goes for spoken communication. You cannot simply say that you are hungry and expect a plate of food to be served to you. What if no one is in the room or if that person was paying attention to the bird flying past the window? They wouldn’t have heard you and in the end, you would be upset because you never got your plate of food.
However, if you had gotten the individual’s attention first and then asked for a plate of food (with a please and thank you, of course), you’d likely be served a plate of food.
But, What does Effective Communication Have to do with Mental Health?
Frankly, communication has just about everything to do with it. Without being able to communicate effectively, many people often find themselves deeper and deeper in a hole they can’t seem to get out of.
To put this into perspective, when I was a young child in school, I was often made fun of for a number of things. From being the “nerd” in class to dressing like a boy to being the only girl in my class on the roller hockey team. At the time, I just assumed this was something I had to deal with and expect, even though it made me feel horrible inside.
Yet, I never communicated that it made me feel horrible. I can still remember thinking no adult wants to hear about this—ten-year-olds aren’t supposed to have problems like this.
For years after that, I struggled with my identity and who I was as a person. This lead to a depressive state of mind, low self-esteem issues and more as time continued on. After all, I never communicated how I felt or took steps to resolve the problem. Instead, I sought answers from all the wrong places.
It wouldn’t be until more than a decade later that I communicated how I felt, as well as how it has affected me over the course of my life, and how I can move past it now.
When Communication Goes Wrong
Over that decade of not communicating effectively, I constantly put myself in more situations that made me uncomfortable. I just assumed that’s how life worked and being uncomfortable was a part of it.
Seriously, I didn’t think anything of it.
And, that’s the problem. When one doesn’t effectively communicate, they enter what I like to call, “a quest for answers.” However, the answers don’t necessarily turn out to be the right ones. In this state of mind, one is simply searching for an answer for their feelings or any type of communication to fill the void.
In my case, I continued to search for acceptance. Ultimately, I found acceptance with a group that enjoyed using drugs and alcohol. And, at the end of the day, that was okay for me because at least they accepted me for who I was.
Fixing Our Communication Lines
Obviously, choosing to use drugs wasn’t the right answer, but it was the only one that finally seemed to fit my situation perfectly.
Not until years later did I resolve my identity issues. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. There is a simple, yet often difficult thing you can do that can help you to fix any problem you may have.
Yup, you guessed it—communication!
It is difficult and can even be scary at times. Especially, in today’s world, where everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives. It can be hard to reach out to say what you need to say.
In this society, many reach for help on social networks yet can often go unnoticed and unanswered. Just the other day, I had a friend post about how depressed she was feeling, and you know what? Not a single person interacted with the post in a positive way. Each response saying to get over it, grow up and worse. I bet she felt even worse after reading the responses to her post.
Again, we can see this in the recent Parkland school shooting. The shooter had posted on a social network that he was going to become a professional school shooter, but did anyone respond or interact with him to find out more? Was the school notified? Was a counselor assigned to him? No, no and no. Instead, it went unaddressed and guess what? He went forward with his plan.
Now, don’t get me wrong, some people are evil and do set out to do evil things, but if someone had communicated with him, could the results have been different? Could he have been helped?
I know that many people passed me as I was lying on the sidewalk thinking that I could never be saved as a homeless junkie. Yet, here I am, four years sober and thriving in life.
Could the same have happened for the shooter had he been giving the chance to communicate effectively?
We will never know.
What we do know, is that we all need to make the effort to communicate effectively and should do so as much as possible.
It’s simple. You likely have a routine, you probably see the same mailman, barista, co-workers, colleagues every day. Ask them how they’re doing the next time you see them, REALLY find out how their life is going! You honestly never know who’s day you are going to brighten up simply by communicating with them.
Who knows, maybe they just went through a terrible life experience and all they really needed to make it through the rest of the day was a friendly face that actually cared enough to listen to them.