When you have a problem you have two choices:
a/ fix it
b/ ignore it.
Sometimes the emotional upheaval of the problem is a problem in itself, which leaves you with two choices:
a/ talk about it
b/ ignore it.
Unless the issue is 'We're Out Of Chocolate!' and you happen to be having too much chocolate anyway, b/ is always the wrong answer, 'kay? Trust me on this - the problem just gets way worse. The trick to a/ though is to find the right listener.
Which brings us to c/.
Recently I recognized that a friend needed a listener, having suddenly discovered she is going through problems of such unimaginable horribleness I am amazed she is still walking upright and has not turned completely grey and/or developed tremors.
Actually what I thought was, "Omigosh, I shouldn't be worrying about my stupid problems when she is going through all that."
After a long chat exploring feelings and options, it struck me that there was encouragement for her in a problem I've come to terms with myself, and I shared that - while being careful to keep the focus on her problem. You know what she said?
"Omigosh, I shouldn't worry about my stupid problems when you're going through all that."
What's that old story about the dinner you go to where everybody dumps their problems on the table and ends up taking home their own, because everybody else's look even lousier? Yeah. That thing. That is c/.