When I decide to listen, I like to begin by using my sense of hearing to tune in to my environment. I just make note of the sounds of my house, like my dog snoring, or the noise the washing machine makes. I notice if a sound is pleasant or unpleasant. If it’s unpleasant, is there anything I can do to change it? I can turn off the talk shows if I don’t want to hear people argue. I haven’t figured out how to change the annoying ping of my microwave, so I just live with that. But mostly I just listen and observe my reactions.
When I write in my journal, I listen to myself. I do not censor the “bad” feelings or thoughts. I listen. I am sometimes surprised that I have these difficult thoughts. I thought I was more put together than that. But no, I am human. My human self likes to complain. So, I listen. I notice the more I listen, the calmer I feel. You would think I would get upset, listening to all this inner strife, but the opposite occurs. I feel heard. The initial complaining quiets down a bit.
I thought I knew all about listening, because I listen every day all day. The truth is, I am still learning about listening. One thing I can say with certainty is that there is nothing more healing, connecting and powerful than listening.
Something we have all experienced is trying to get our point of view across and becoming frustrated when the person we are talking to argues with us and tries to get his/her point of view across to us. In essence, they are telling us we are “wrong” to feel that way or to think that way. Now we don’t want to listen to them either.
Listening to someone else does not invalidate our own point of view. It may not do anything to change our point of view. It does not mean that we agree with the other person’s point of view. I have made my own decision. I don’t want to fight with myself and others until I am dead. (Please understand I know that relationships have conflict and that sometimes you have to go to war. There are exceptions. I get that.) I want to experience my life, accept my life, and love myself and others because that is a better way to live. In order to do that, I have to turn off the “noise” and be brave and listen.
What will I hear when I listen? I don’t know. But I will listen with openness and curiosity, because that is how I learn and grow. And yes, I am still learning. I am still growing.
What will you hear when you listen? Perhaps that you are troubled and hurting and need tending to. Perhaps you will be guided to forgive yourself. Perhaps you will find out that you are a person who is worth listening to. Perhaps you will learn to love yourself.
NOTE: For your own protection, there are some things you do not have to, nor should you listen to, for example voices of abuse or condemnation. The power of listening should be used wisely.