9 July 1999

Letter

It helps to talk and it helps to listen, too…

Thank you for publishing the review of Neil Jamess book The A-Z of positive thinking (Farmlife June 4). I am detaching the page and pinning it up on my corkboard! (And buying the book…)

Still, we might do well to remember that a cheerful smile, a chirpy whistle (still more than a stiff upper lip) may hide a painful emotional wound, which if not attended to can fester and radically undermine any basis for positive thought or action.

It used to be said that "a trouble shared is a trouble halved". Certainly at times it is good to talk – to a chosen and trusted friend who is a patient listener, to a helpline, the Samaritans, or a member of the clergy. Expressing painful feelings can relieve tension, may uncover an antidote to corrosive worries, anxieties and fears, and promote the growth of a sound basis for hope and positive thinking. And by simply listening (without hastening to give advice) to ourselves or to a friend, we can do something. Positive.

Henry Rose, 20 Brook Street, Elsworth, Cambridge.