Daily Thought: When all you need is a listening ear

NOT REALLY TEA: It's a place for you to listen, or to find someone to listen

I've been hanging around a site called 7 Cups of Tea (or abbreviated as 7 Cups) a lot lately. It's a site that I came across on my newsfeed, where a friend was sharing it saying that it's a perfect site for you to talk to someone when you have a problem. Being the curious cat that I was, I decided to check out the site. One thing led to another and suddenly I found myself in the role of a "listener".

It's me trying to reach my unfulfilled dream of being a counsellor, I guess.

Basically on the site, there are two types of users. One is the guest or member, someone who goes to the site in the hopes of talking to someone. The other is the listener, who well, listens to the person who is seeking help. Because I have a big ego (which means I hate asking for help) and because I wanted to see what it entails, not to mention I have this delusion of wanting to change the world, I immediately signed up as a listener.

I was required to take a "test" before I was allowed to be a listener, which I passed with flying colours. I thought it was because I was a Psychology student. Turns out that the test was just really easy, because Dawn got full marks at the first go to.

7 Cups prides itself on active listening as their only and main form of therapy, where listeners are discouraged from giving advice. Instead, listeners should actively reflect the seeker's feelings and emotions, ideally helping them to find their own "solutions". One prominent tip that is repeatedly flashed in the site is that: "Advice is easy to give, but sometimes it can be subjective and misleading. The seeker understands their story the best. The listener's job is to just guide."

I have learned this is one of my final year class before, but to really apply and see it in action is not easy. After all, our human tendency to to want to fix the problems and to offer our advice to help make the person feel better.

It's been almost a week since I joined, and I must say, a lot of my worldview got challenged as part of the experience. I initially thought that only people with relationship problems will go to the site, but so far I have people asking me how to tell their parents that they have mental illness, how to handle a husband who has children with his mistress, how to come out as an asexual to conservative parents and how to deal with anxiety, among others. I have never realised how screwed up this world is.

There are several factors that I may not see eye to eye with the site (like the focus and emphasis on active listening), but overall I think it's an excellent initiative. When people ask how can the internet make the world a better place, I think this is one of the awesome initiatives.

Got a problem or want to make the world a better place? Take a look at 7 Cups.


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