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Why It’s Important to Have a Sounding Board

familyLife is tough, we all know that. There are numerous responsibilities we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis that can make things a little murky. Sometimes we get so caught up in something that we start to lose concept of what is actually going on. As a person who lives with schizophrenia I know that feeling all too well. That’s why it pays to have a sounding board.

A sounding board is that friend or family member you can go to with anything that will hear you out and listen. Sometimes they offer advice but the benefit they give is essentially in the listening.

This is a person you trust so much that you can say any weird thing that pops into your head and they’ll hear you out, even if it’s some ludicrous idea with no basis in reality.

For me, that person is my mom. I have a couple friends too who are good listeners but my mom is the one that’s seen me at my absolute worst and still pats my back and says “I love you” even when I say something that’s totally off the wall.

A sounding board is the definition of unconditional love and I count myself lucky for having one because I know there are people out there who are struggling that just need a person to talk to.

The point of it is that there are countless thoughts that careen through our heads everyday, some of them are nice, some of them are inappropriate and some may not even have any provocation and no basis in the real world. The great thing about having a person who will listen is that there’s essentially no judgment about what you say.

It can be freeing to get invasive thoughts out by telling them to your sounding board and when they’re still there after you’ve said whatever you needed to say you can’t count them as a friend for life.

My mom and I have this thing called a coke and a smoke where we’ll go through the drive-thru of McDonald’s, get a coke and then just park in the parking lot, preferably under a shady tree and she’ll just sit with me as I have a cigarette or a few. During these little breaks I feel free to say whatever is on my mind and she’ll listen like she always does and offer up suggestions. It’s like a purge to sit with her and get everything that’s on my mind out into the open. These coke and smokes have come to be something of a ritual between the two of us and I’m so thankful that I can have this time with my mom because no matter what I say or how I feel I know she’ll be there to hear me.

It’s incredibly helpful to have a sounding board. That’s what makes a friend great or a relationship awesome. I don’t have a relationship currently but a sounding board is what I’ll be looking for when I do think about finding love. That’s a better basis for a relationship than mutual attraction or a unique personality or really anything else.

Just knowing you have someone you can be honest with gives you a feeling that despite all it’s flaws, the world is still alright.

Why It’s Important to Have a Sounding Board

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). Why It’s Important to Have a Sounding Board. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 May 2015
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