December 01, 2018
The Gift Of Listening
It is that time of year when we give gifts and share from our hearts. What about a giving something very few others do this year, the act of listening? Most of us hear, and engage in conversation, but how often do we put our motives, and opinions aside, put our discomfort in park, and just listen? Usually when someone speaks it is open season. Either party can throw into the ring whatever they have going though their minds. The other then reacts, or takes the conversation someplace else entirely. More often than not we cut each other off mid sentence and rush in to prove our point. We judge, we one-up. When we are struggling, however, we don’t want feedback, we just need to feel heard and held.
If someone is expressing feelings that make us uncomfortable, we may put the breaks on and try to shut the conversation down. We find ourselves wanting to fix them, or the situation, or perhaps we start intellectualizing about the circumstance to make the moment more abstract. It isn’t easy to really listen to someone’s pain. The question we need to ask ourselves is, are we helping them by trying to alleviate it... or are we shutting them down because we are uncomfortable with it? Perhaps their floundering makes us feel helpless. Alternatively, we may have been exposed to unpredictable emotional outbursts in our families that make us wary of instability. If we were taught to put all “darkness” aside, however, we may never have learned how to navigate these realms.