See Them

See Them

Episode: 040

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Hello and welcome to The Overflow Podcast. My name
is Craig Booker. The title of this episode is See

0:00:06.280,0:00:14.640
Them. The material in this episode is inspired by Seen
by Will Hutcherson and Chinwé Williams. Note: I will talk

0:00:14.640,0:00:20.840
a lot about mental health but please note this is
not a substitute for therapy or mental health care.

0:00:20.840,0:00:27.520
The title of this episode is See Them. Will opens
with a story about his son, Liam. He had asked his

0:00:27.520,0:00:33.320
son to clean his room while he was working in
his home office, and after a few failed attempts

0:00:33.320,0:00:42.920
to motivate his son, he tried to incentivize his
ask by paying him $3 if he would clean his room.

0:00:42.920,0:00:51.120
If he failed to clean his room, his son would owe
will $3 the idea backfired when his son in tears

0:00:51.120,0:00:59.440
brought in his whole piggy bank, begging his dad to
take his money. His son, Liam, felt disconnected from

0:00:59.440,0:01:06.360
his dad and needed time to reconnect he needed
to feel safe again. Liam didn’t know how to

0:01:06.360,0:01:15.600
express what he needed and Will acknowledged that
he was slow in recognizing the need. Will says, “To

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lead kids and teenagers, first you have to see them.
When they feel seen, you win their heart. Seeing

0:01:24.480,0:01:31.960
them requires us to look beyond how they behave
on the outside to try and understand what they may

0:01:31.960,0:01:42.760
be feeling on the inside.” I would take this quote
maybe a step further when including adults, we

0:01:42.760,0:01:48.440
all need to feel seen by those around us we need
others to try and understand what we are feeling

0:01:48.440,0:01:53.880
on the inside. Will then goes into a section
called Seeing Beyond the Behavior. Anytime a

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kid or adult faces despair, their behavior may
not be what you expect. For someone facing

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despair, you might see irritability, moodiness,
pulling away, or shutting down. Will encourages

0:02:10.520,0:02:16.960
the readers to ask themselves this question do I
know where they are coming from we’ll encourage as

0:02:16.960,0:02:22.680
readers to ask themselves, “Do I know where they
are coming from?” And in the book, Will provides

0:02:22.680,0:02:29.960
these examples of questions to ask. He says, “What
may have happened earlier that day? What trust has

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been eroded from past disappointments? What kind
of trauma have they experienced from the pain of

0:02:35.160,0:02:40.760
poverty or a high-crime neighborhood? What social
pressures might they be facing that we have no

0:02:40.760,0:02:47.680
idea about? What kind of pain are they carrying
from the daily reminders of political and social

0:02:47.680,0:02:54.200
injustice? What shame might they be carrying from
poor decisions or an abusive situation?” Depending

0:02:54.200,0:02:59.760
on your relationship with the other person you
may know a lot, but realize that you don’t know

0:02:59.760,0:03:06.480
everything they face. If you’re a coach, a
small group leader, a pastor, or a caring adult, you

0:03:06.480,0:03:12.200
often won’t know what they’re dealing with until
you ask. The questions above help us see beyond

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the behavior and empathize with the other person.
It goes into a section called See What They Feel.

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“If you want to get in tune with your kids, you
have to see past their behavior and understand

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what they are really feeling.” According to the
book The Power of Showing Up, the best place to

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begin is to avoid shaming, labeling, or dismissing.
Alright so, let’s talk through an example. In the

0:03:34.680,0:03:40.200
book, Will provides a similar scenario. Your
daughter comes home from school and is upset

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you learn that she has failed her math test.
She throws her backpack down as she walks into

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the room and begins to cry. As a parent, there are
several ways you could respond to the situation.

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Your first inclination might be to shame, label,
or dismiss. Let’s take a look: For shaming you

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might say, “You failed your test?! How could you do
that? That was stupid!” Labeling might look like, “You

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know you failed your test because you’re lazy.
If you just worked harder and spent less time

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playing on your phone or playing that silly video
game, you could have done better.” Dismissing, “No

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worries. There’s no reason to be upset. It’s just
one test; you’ll get it next time.” These responses

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might seem like the logical thing to say, but can
hurt the person on the receiving end. We often fail

0:04:27.640,0:04:34.840
to realize that by going straight for the logical,
we can unintentionally invalidate their emotions.

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When a teen or adult is experiencing despair
jumping straight to logic can worsen feelings of

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loneliness or beliefs that no one gets them so we
go through these different scenarios for shaming

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labeling dismissing so instead of shaming we could
show empathy I know it’s disappointing to fail a

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test I get it I hate it when I fail too instead of
labeling we could look deeper we could say I can

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see you care about your grades and especially this
test tell me more about what’s going on instead of

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dismissing we could acknowledge their feelings
and we could say I am so sorry you failed your

0:05:15.640,0:05:21.680
test you must feel disappointed tell me more if
you want to help teens or adults with despair it

0:05:21.680,0:05:28.760
is imperative that you meet emotion with emotion
likewise you need to know when to meet logic with

0:05:28.760,0:05:35.400
logic will says if you feel the feeling with
them then you’ll have the opportunity to lead

0:05:35.400,0:05:42.480
them to a place of logical processing and as you
make efforts to see beyond the behavior they feel

0:05:42.480,0:05:50.440
seen as they learn how to move from emotional
processing to logical processing feelings of

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Despair will diminish think of this process as
an emotional exhale we all get this way we keep

0:05:58.520,0:06:04.960
thoughts feelings and emotions to ourselves we
mistakenly believe we can handle it on our own

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instead of telling someone else we stuff it down
when we help someone with logical processing it

0:06:10.800,0:06:17.480
is the equivalent of them emotionally exhaling
all of the thoughts and emotions come pouring

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out and it releases all of that builtup energy
if you ask a person experiencing despair how

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they feel you will often be met with answers
like I don’t know or I feel numb if you want

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to move the conversation try asking this question
so you can start by saying do you feel lonely hurt

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angry embarrassed ashamed alone or afraid and if
they say all the above ask them to pick one and

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tell you more if you get nowhere another great
approach is to pull up a picture of the feelings

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wheel and ask the person to pick an emotion and
tell you more about it the goal here is to help

0:07:04.760,0:07:10.520
them identify the emotions they are feeling and
to get them talking about it this will allow them

0:07:10.520,0:07:17.160
to process their emotions and exhale all of that
builtup energy the more we practice this process

0:07:17.160,0:07:22.760
with them the more they feel seen this will
help them develop a stronger connection and

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lead them towards healing see beyond despair
there are times when we see what’s going on

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in someone’s life life acknowledge their emotions
and realize it could be developing into something

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more complex knowing when to ask for help is an
essential tool as a friend parent coach Mentor

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or caring adult if you suspect that what you’re
seeing in another person might be more there is

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no shame in bringing in a therapist or counselor
or other mental health professional listening to

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your instincts and asking for help is a strength
not a weakness doing what is best for the other

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person is what we are after here despair versus
depression keep in mind that as friends mentors

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coaches or caring adults our role in helping
another person is not to diagnose we leave that

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to the professionals what I do hope to accomplish
here is a basic understanding of the two terms

0:08:20.000,0:08:25.200
despair is what someone feels when they become
hopeless and disconnected from their emotional

0:08:25.200,0:08:30.920
state when we become hopeless and disconnected
from our emotional state the two halves of the

0:08:30.920,0:08:38.080
brain begin to separate this dispar process is
called emotional Detachment when kids or adults

0:08:38.080,0:08:45.280
feel seen it helps the two parts of the brain come
back together chin way does a fantastic job of

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describing despair let’s take a look at that she
says despair like depression can be temporarily

0:08:52.760,0:09:01.600
debilitating despair is a profound feeling of
discouragement and negativism about most things

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particularly the future those experiencing despair
can feel pain anguish loss of Hope and loss of Joy

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however despair differs from episodes of clinical
depression in that your kid or teen can typically

0:09:16.200,0:09:22.440
but not always complete daily tasks two of the
forms of depression mentioned in the book are

0:09:22.440,0:09:28.720
situational and clinical situational depression
is a temporary condition that occurs when an

0:09:28.720,0:09:36.840
individual has difficulty coping with or adjusting
to a major life change crisis or event clinical

0:09:36.840,0:09:44.400
depression is a severe form of depression marked
by persistent sadness feelings of inadequacy and

0:09:44.400,0:09:52.280
a greater diminished quality of life among other
things the natural question most people want to

0:09:52.280,0:09:59.120
ask here is what causes all this and while I too
want to know the reasoning behind it or what let

0:09:59.120,0:10:06.200
led to it behavioral researchers still don’t have
a clear answer Suicidal Thoughts a few paragraphs

0:10:06.200,0:10:13.000
or even a chapter is not nearly enough space
to address Suicidal Thoughts according to the

0:10:13.000,0:10:20.680
book one common factor that everyone who faces
Suicidal Thoughts feels is despair or a sense

0:10:20.680,0:10:28.760
of hopelessness an important point that they make
is that depression alone does not lead to Suicide

0:10:28.760,0:10:35.120
dis spare is the main cause of suicide the main
point that the authors make is that no one should

0:10:35.120,0:10:41.720
navigate suicide alone we should always take
Suicidal Thoughts seriously keep in mind that just

0:10:41.720,0:10:48.000
because someone has despair or depression doesn’t
mean they are suicidal at the same time we want

0:10:48.000,0:10:53.920
to pay close attention and not be dismissive
either two important questions we should ask

0:10:53.920,0:10:59.640
directly are you having thoughts of dying or
ending your life are you thinking about hurting

0:10:59.640,0:11:07.680
yourself that’s all for this episode thank
you for watching if you like the video give

0:11:07.680,0:11:12.520
us a thumbs up and be sure to subscribe
so you don’t miss out on future episodes

Show Notes

See Them

Will opens with a story about his son, Liam.

He had asked his son to clean his room while he was working in his home office. After a few failed attempts to motivate his son, he tried to incentivize his ask by paying him $3 if he cleaned his room. If he failed to clean his room, his son would owe Will $3. The idea backfired when his son, in tears, brought in his whole piggy bank, begging him to take his money. His son, Liam felt disconnected from his dad and needed time to reconnect.1

Liam didn’t know how to express what he needed and Will acknowledged that he was slow in recognizing the need.

“To lead kids and teenagers, first you have to see them. When they feel seen, you win their heart. Seeing them requires us to look beyond how they behave on the outside to try and understand what they may be feeling on the inside.”1

I would take this quote a step further to include adults. We all need to feel seen by those around us. We need others to try and understand what we are feeling on the inside.

Seeing Beyond the Behavior

Anytime a kid or adult faces despair, their behavior may not be what you expect. For someone facing despair, you might see irritability, moodiness, pulling away, or shutting down.

Will encourages readers to ask themselves, “Do I know where they are coming from?”1

Will provides these examples:1

    • What may have happened earlier that day?

    • What trust has been eroded from past disappointments?

    • What kind of trauma have they experienced from the pain of poverty or a high-crime neighborhood?

    • What social pressures might they be facing that we have no idea about?

    • What kind of pain are they carrying from the daily reminders of political and social injustice?

    • What shame might they be carrying from poor decisions or an abusive situation?

Depending on your relationship with the other person, you may know a lot, but realize that you don’t know everything they face.

If you are a coach, small group leader, pastor, or caring adult, you often won’t know what they are dealing with until you ask.

The questions above help us see beyond the behavior and empathize with the other person.

See What They Feel

“If you want to get in tune with your kids, you have to see past their behavior and understand what they are really feeling.”1

According to the book The Power of Showing Up, the best place to begin is to avoid shaming, labeling, or dismissing.

Let’s talk through an example. In the book, Will Hutcherson provides a similar scenario.

Your daughter comes home from school and is upset. You learn that she has failed her math test. She throws her backpack down as she walks into the room and begins to cry.

As a parent, there are several ways you could respond to the situation. Your first inclination might be to shame, label, or dismiss.

Let’s take a look:1
Shaming: “You failed your test?! How could you do that? That was stupid!”

Labeling: “You know you failed your test because you are lazy. If you just worked harder and spent less time playing on your phone or that silly video game, you would have done better.”

Dismissing: “No worries. There’s no reason to be upset. It’s just one test; you’ll get it next time.”

These responses might seem like the logical thing to say, but can hurt the person on the receiving end.

We often fail to realize that by going straight for the logical, we can unintentionally invalidate their emotions.

When a teen or adult is experiencing despair, jumping straight to logic can “worsen feelings of loneliness or beliefs that no one ‘gets them.’”

Instead of shaming -> Show empathy:
“I know it’s disappointing to fail a test. I get it. hate it When I fail, too!”

Instead of labeling -> Look deeper:
“I can see you care about your grades and especially this test. Tell me more about what’s going on.”

Instead of dismissing -> acknowledge their feelings:
“I am so sorry you failed your test. You must feel disappointed. Tell me more!”

If you want to help teens or adults with despair, it is imperative that you meet emotion with emotion. Likewise, you need to know when to meet logic with logic.

“If you feel the feeling with them, then you’ll have the opportunity to lead them to a place of logical processing. And as you make efforts to see beyond the behavior, they feel seen. As they learn how to move from emotional processing to logical processing, feelings of despair will diminish.”1

Think of this process as an emotional exhale.

We all get this way. We keep thoughts, feelings, and emotions to ourselves. We mistakenly believe we can handle it on our own. Instead of telling someone else, we stuff it down. When we help someone with logical processing, it is the equivalent of them emotionally exhaling. All of the thoughts and emotions come pouring out, and it releases all of that built-up energy.

If you ask a person experiencing despair how they feel, you will often be met with answers like, “I don’t know” or, “I feel numb.”

If you want to move the conversation forward, try asking this question.

Do you feel …

    • Lonely?

    • Hurt?

    • Angry?

    • Embarrassed?

    • Ashamed?

    • Alone?

    • Afraid?

If they say all of the above, ask them to pick one and tell you more.

If you get nowhere, another great approach is to pull up a picture of the Feelings Wheel. Ask the person to pick an emotion and tell you more about it.

The goal here is to help them identify the emotions they are feeling and to get them talking about it. This will allow them to process their emotions and exhale all of that built-up energy. The more we practice this process with them, the more they feel seen. This will help them develop a stronger connection and lead them toward healing.

See Beyond Despair

There are times when we see what’s going on in someone’s life, acknowledge their emotions, and realize it could be developing into something more complex.

Knowing when to ask for help is an essential tool as a friend, parent, coach, mentor, or caring adult. If you suspect that what you are seeing in another person might be more, there is no shame in bringing in a therapist or counselor.

Listening to your instincts and asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. Doing what is best for the other person is what we are after here.

Despair vs. Depression

Keep in mind that as friends, mentors, coaches, or caring adults, our role in helping another person is not to diagnose. We leave that to the professionals. What I do hope to accomplish here is a basic understanding of the two terms.

Despair is what someone feels when they become hopeless and disconnected from their emotional state. When we become hopeless and disconnected from our emotional state, the two halves of the brain begin to separate. This dis-pairing process is called emotional detachment. When kids or adults feel seen, it helps the two parts of the brain come back together.

Chinwé does a fantastic job describing despair. Let’s take a look.

“Despair, like depression, can be temporarily debilitating.
Despair is a profound feeling of discouragement and negativism about most things, particularly the future.”1

Those experiencing despair can feel pain, anguish, loss of hope, and loss of joy.

“However, despair differs from episodes of clinical depression in that your kid or teen can typically (but not always) complete daily tasks.”1

Situational Depression – “…a temporary condition that occurs when an individual has difficulty coping with or adjusting to a major life change, crisis, or event.”1

Clinical Depression – “…a severe form of depression marked by persistent sadness, feelings of inadequacy, and a greatly diminished quality of life, among other things.” American Psychiatric Association

I think The natural question most people want to ask is, “What causes all of this?”
While I, too, want to know the reasoning behind it or what led to it, behavioral researchers still don’t have a clear answer.

Suicidal Thoughts

A few paragraphs or even a chapter is not enough space to address suicidal thoughts. According to the book, “…one common factor that everyone who faces suicidal thoughts feels is despair or a sense of hopelessness.” An important point they make is that depression alone does not lead to suicide. “Despair is the main cause of suicide.” The main point that the authors make is that no one should navigate suicide alone.1

We should always take suicidal thoughts seriously.

Keep in mind that just because someone has despair or depression doesn’t mean they are suicidal. At the same time, we want to pay close attention and not be dismissive either.

Two questions we should ASK directly:
Are you having thoughts of dying or ending your life?
Are you thinking about hurting yourself?

Sources

[1] Hutcherson, W., & Williams, C. (2021). Seen: Healing Despair and Anxiety in Kids and Teens Through the Power of Connection.

Last updated on: 01/22/2024

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