Just like lessons are repeated until learned, stories are repeated until heard. People most want to be heard and understood, but sometimes they don’t even know what their real message is, so they have a hard time communicating it. If someone tells you a story repeatedly, it may not be because they forgot they had already told you. It may be because they feel that message they are trying to convey with the story has not gotten across.
The real message is almost always about feelings – not events. It is about feeling respected, validated, included, and needed. It is about being truly seen and appreciated as an individual.
Instead of listening to the story over and over, listen to the message underneath the story. The story is just a vehicle – look for the driver of the car. Listen to see if it is about feeling excluded, unwanted, or some other difficult feeling. Listen for the deeper meaning. They are telling you the story again and again because their hurt has not been addressed. That wound will continue to be open until it is noticed and dealt with.
Be careful to not put your own feelings into this – ask them how they feel rather than suggesting words. It is better to ask than to assume. They may not have words for how they feel, so this may be difficult. Wait, and give them space. Offer other ways of expressing themselves – drumming, painting, dancing, or singing tones, for instance. Not all communication is verbal. But all communication is essential.
Sometimes “dealing with” a wound isn’t about healing it – it is just about hearing it. Sometimes things just have to get out into the open.