Gary Bentley, Rural Aid: Everyone has an important story to share

Counselling column: Gary Bentley (pictured) is a counsellor with Rural Aid and in this week's column writes about the importance of sharing stories. Photo: File.
Counselling column: Gary Bentley (pictured) is a counsellor with Rural Aid and in this week's column writes about the importance of sharing stories. Photo: File.

They are among us.

Those people who, in spite of everything, exude happiness and contentment; those people who give the appearance of bursting with joy.

There's such a lack of colour in the world we share that there is a general expectation that anyone with a joyous disposition is almost required to justify their attitude; explain their good humour; give reason for their glee...or risk being dismissed and ignored.

At the other end of the scale we avoid people who are constantly sad.

Despite the RUOK campaigns and others of their ilk there's a reluctance to approach people who are obviously in emotional or spiritual pain.

There's a fear that acknowledgement of the pain will result in exacerbating the problem forcing the sufferer even deeper into their own misery or prompting an emotional confrontation...neither of them desirable reactions.

The point is that individuals at either end of the emotional spectrum (and the greater majority of society who fluctuate between the two extremes) can benefit from sharing their stories.

It's in the telling - and, most importantly, in being heard - that the value lies.

Everyone we meet has a story to tell and the need to tell that story.

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Too few, however, are able to find a sympathetic or receptive audience because there are more people willing to talk, than there are to listen.

Joyous people are no less troubled by negativity and doubt than sad people.

There are grey clouds and baggage in everyone's life.

What the joyous have, though, is a greater understanding of their situation and more finely honed coping skills.

Rather than expecting or requiring them to justify their attitude, perhaps they should be encouraged to explain the skills that feed their positivity.

We could all use more of that in our lives.

Gary Bentley is a counsellor with Rural Aid.

If you would like find out more information please don't hesitate to contact him on gary.bentley@ruralaid.org.au