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10 Things People Who Grew Up With Nothing Want You To Know

10 Things People Who Grew Up With Nothing Want You To Know

To those born into affluent or even middle class families, childhood is often a happy stage of life blessed with fun, enjoyment, and excess. Not everyone enjoys this luxury, however, and the fact remains that many children are forced to grow up with nothing in the way of either material possessions or a productive, nurturing home. This is reflected by the fact that an estimated 1.3 billion people currently live in extreme poverty, coping on an average sum of less than $1.25 dollars a day. This represents yet another generation of children who will grow up desolate and without the advantages enjoyed by so many of their contemporaries.

Such hardship teaches crucial life lessons to those who grow up with nothing, however, making them an inspiration for millions like them and a fountain of knowledge for those who are born into more fortunate circumstances. Here are 10 things that people who grew up with nothing want you to know:

1. They struggle to save and manage their finances in later life

For those who grow up poor, life is endured from day-to-day with little emphasis given to core skills such as money management and savings. Given that factors such as rising inflation and volatile economic conditions are already making it difficult for citizens to build a viable retirement fund, a lack of financial management skills can be crippling.

So, while those who experienced poverty as youngsters truly appreciate the value of money, a lack of awareness and practical money management skills make it extremely difficult to save their hard-earned cash.

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2. They can be fiercely Independent to the point of disconnection

In the UK alone, small and independently-owned businesses contribute a staggering £1 trillion to the overall economy. Interestingly, some of the world’s most renowned solo entrepreneurs are famous for growing up with minimal finances, support, and education. This highlights the type of fierce independence and introversion that characterizes those who experience hardship as youngsters.

While this can clearly be a positive thing, the sense of independence felt by those who grew up with nothing can also prevent them from forming personal and professional relationships with others. This means that they can struggle to work with others in some instances, while they may also experience trust issues that lead to a disconnected and difficult existence.

3. They struggle to form romantic relations and close friendships

On a similar note, those who are forced to purely focus on survival in their youth tend to develop an introspective and introverted personality. This is something that I can attest to myself, as I have also struggled to build close friendships with others even as I have entered adulthood. This comes from the lack of a fundamental social skill set, which is learned while attending school and interacting with other children in a carefree manner.

Additionally, those who are not nurtured as children or come from abusive homes are not set a positive example when it comes to forming loving, adult relationships. They are also loath to let their guard down, making it difficult to communicate effectively or share even positive feelings. This is something you need to bear in mind when entering a relationship with someone who experienced hardship in their youth, as the cultivation of trust and romance may take a little longer.

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4. They may not have experienced a traditional education

While people who grew up with nothing may have significant book smarts, they may lack the type of structured and traditional education that so many of you may have enjoyed. I myself left school at 17, and the fact remains that youngsters without financial security or a stable, loving home are far more likely to move regularly and switch schools.

This type of disruption can significantly hinder formative education, making it difficult to become eligible for higher degree course in later life. As a result of this, affected individuals are forced to either pursue alternative and independent paths or carry their burden of their upbringing throughout adulthood.

5. They are not always motivated by the pursuit of self-serving goals

People that grow up with nothing often place their own interests to one side as they look to support others. This is a direct result of their upbringing, as they have an innate affinity with suffering and empathize with others as a way of preventing them from experiencing similar hardship.

6. They are not materialistic

Those who grew up with nothing have little or no interest in material possessions, however, as they have a broader understanding of life and have developed an appreciation for altogether more basic values. This means that they are more likely to appreciate and place a higher value on close friendships and family, while time spent in the company of loved ones is also given huge priority.

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7. They may struggle to evolve as their circumstances improve

As children we learn more through example than words, so it stands to reason that our brains should be most receptive between the ages of two and five. This means that those who experience hardship during their youth quickly become accustomed to the harsh lessons of such a reality, creating a template that continues throughout later life.

As a result of this, these people may struggle to adapt their outlook or lifestyle as their circumstances improve. This means that while long-suffering individuals never lose touch with their childhood or their underlying resourceful, they can often fail to change their habits during more prosperous times.

8. They occasionally repeat the mistakes of their parents

If we assume that those who grew up with nothing struggle to adapt their lifestyle in a progressive manner, it is also fair to surmise that they are prone to repeating the mistakes of their parents. This can manifest itself in many ways, from an inability to showcase love for their children to an over-reliance on making food and products last for longer even when they have the money to replace them.

9. They may be unfairly cynical of tthers

We have already touched on how those who grow up with nothing may be exposed or hostile or neglectful personalities during their youth. This creates an innate sense of suspicion and mistrust in others, while it also forces some individuals to rely heavily on their instincts and develop genuine skill in reading the people around them.

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While this can be a beneficial skill to have, an overwhelming sense of cynicism can cause you to become mistrustful of those who could actually have a positive influence on your life. By relying purely on instinct and past experience alone, those who grow old with nothing may struggle to build productive and mutually beneficial partnerships in later life.

10. They struggle to identify with their own culture

The principle of association is one of the underlying pillars of psychology, and one that can have a huge impact on children who grow up with nothing. This psychological principle creates associations that link our thought processes and specific circumstances, which in turn manifest themselves in our consciousness as we grow older.

As a result of this, a challenging and harrowing upbringing can create negative associations regarding cultural identity. While this leaves individuals disconnected from aspects of their own cultural identity, however, it also makes them more open to other values and alternative cultural beliefs.

Featured photo credit: Flickr / Rudolf Vlček via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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