A close friend of mine is in her twelfth year of cancer and facing the challenges of old age, too. I called to check in on her and listened for the next half hour as she described her situation and challenges. Her pain and frustration poured out of her mouth. Compassionate hearing is both a vital need during challenges and a valuable gift that we can give.

Most of us don’t know how to listen. To listen compassionately, we need to overcome a few obstacles:

1. We don’t want to feel the pain and are unwilling to listen.
2. We think we need to fix the situation and want to offer up suggestions.
3. We have judgments about our friend’s situation that create distance between us.
4. Our friend is sapping our energy.


Let’s explore each of these obstacles first as the listener. It is difficult hanging in there with friends and loved ones who have been sick for a long time. When they first get the diagnosis, it’s easy to be there with support. But as time wears on, we can be unwilling to face our own issues that are triggered in the process. Witnessing the pain of our friends triggers our own pain and issues.
As the listener, be willing to feel your own pain and the challenges of your beloved in a way that lifts both of you up. This is not about going down the tubes into depression with your friend. Rather, listen in a way that helps your friend to get it out and let it go. This kind of release leads to a peaceful state of consciousness. Willingness, love, forgiveness, prayer and meditation are useful tools.

Simply allow the feelings to pass through you without dwelling on them. Forgive and let go with each breath. Keep your heart focused on deeper desires of healing and connection. Love your friend. Love yourself. Love is the vital link that connects us. Love heals. A compassionate listener is simply willing to feel everything, letting the feelings pass through into love.

If you are the one in crisis, you can help your friends and family members to listen compassionately by sharing this article with them and by talking about their feelings and pain openly. In this way, you can work through the pain into a much deeper connection of love together.


The next obstacle is the deeper inner need to fix it and make it better. We can’t. Feeling helpless is uncomfortable. We don’t like it. To keep from feeling helpless, we offer suggestions. Sometimes, the suggestions are helpful. More often, our friend just needs to vent to get the words and feelings out. They don’t want us to fix them, just to listen.

You can help your friends by preparing them. You can simply say, “I need to vent to release some feelings and get the words out of my mouth. Can you just listen? You don’t need to fix anything or figure anything out. Could you just listen?”
This preparation takes our friends off the hook and they can relax and be with us in loving compassion.


Our judgments can be a defensive strategy to protect us from feeling uncomfortable. Judgments come up to distance us so we don’t feel the pain. We can also experience judgments when we see the situation from a different perspective. Relax. When you feel judgments about your friend’s situation, take a breath and relax. Focus on your care and love to bring you together rather than the separating factors.

If you are feeling judgments from your friends, some honesty can break down the barriers and bring you closer together.


People who are in crisis can be needy and suck the life out of friends and family members. This makes it very hard to be around them. It is usually an unconscious thing. The person doesn’t have a clue they are draining energy. The quickest way to correct the situation is with honesty. Invite your friend in crisis to be open with needs. Energy sucking usually happens when we don’t know that we can directly ask for help. It’s okay to be needy out in the open. We all go through times when we are needy. The energy suck happens when we try to manipulate to get what we need rather than being open and honest.

You could say, “I’m feeling afraid. Could you hold me?” Or, “I need groceries. Can you go to the store for me?” Simple, clear, and straight forward. We don’t need to go into a long story about it. Our friends may be tired of hearing our same old worn out stories.

If you are the one in crisis, think about how you communicate. Become more observant for how your friends and family respond to you. Do you drain energy from your friends by telling long stories? Notice when they pull away and when they come closer. Take responsibility for your feelings and communication.

As the listener, have compassion for yourself as well as your friend. Be honest. Take self responsibility for your feelings and needs. The best relationships have a flow of giving and receiving. A common misconception among care givers and that we only give, leaving us exhausted. Find a balance using honesty and compassion.

Author's Bio: 

Rev. Kimberly Marooney, Ph.D. is a gifted author, mystic, spiritual counselor, and radio host. She has helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide open to God’s love, heal and move forward on their life paths. Known as “The Elevator to God,” Kimberly works with healers, mystics, coaches and people who feel a deep yearning for God and who feel called to serve in a greater way. Kimberly skillfully guides her clients to mine this territory of deep longing for the treasures of Soul Purpose, enhancing relationships and bringing priorities into sharper focus. Kimberly is the bestselling author of several books including Angel Blessings Cards, and is the founder of TheAngelMinistry.com.
Get your Free Angel Starter Kit at KimberlyMarooney.com