As a youngster, I listened to rugby broadcasts with my dad on Saturday afternoons. Those were the days before television. He listened to the radio with undivided attention, while I was usually doing something else. At some stage I remarked that it sounds as though the players are making a lot of mistakes, aren’t they? He wisely answered that it was only the people on the field who makes mistakes, while the crowd makes noise.

Life is much like rugby. Life is like a team sport and you can’t do everything alone. At one point in your life, you may regret certain decisions. Mistakes, challenges, and finding solutions are just part of life.

You can learn from your mistakes.

Over the years I have heard how counsellors and novices advised people to write letters and journals after sad experiences. Journal-writing can indeed be a way of attempting to help yourself during a difficult time. However many people experience a reinforcement of their pain and unwellness when they have to write about their feelings.

Writing a letter to someone to express your unwell emotions or pain can be as daunting as confronting them in person. Writing a journal can also be intimidating if you don’t like expressing yourself in words, let alone putting words on paper because you have some form of dyslexia or a lack of privacy.

The many faces of trauma

The popular opinion allows people to see ‘trauma’ as being synonymous with distress or discomfort. The other day I stood in a queue to pay for a pair of shoes when I overheard a lady telling her friend that she was so “traumatized” because another shopper “snatched a bargain from under her nose”.

The haphazard way people are using terms like ‘trauma’ and ‘stress’ gives the impression that they know what they are talking about. Our own biases allow us to assume that we know what they are talking about and we have the answers.

The problem is that as listeners we stop listening with the intent to hear and understand. We stop paying attention to what they are trying to share and why they need to tell that part of their story.