Have you ever found that when someone is speaking to you– especially when their viewpoint is different than yours– while listening to them, you will immediately begin crafting your response? Rather than listening to what the other person is saying, and determining why they are saying it, we are often so quick to go on the offensive. For me, I know that I am so caught up in being right— and so afraid to be wrong— that I am constantly thinking of my counter-argument, which truly prevents me from hearing the potentially valuable information being shared with me.
Another time that I find my head speaking loudly, is when I attempt to meditate or pray. Sometimes, my inner dialogue is so loud that it can be extremely difficult for me to focus on the task at hand, especially when that task involves slowing down, and staying hyper-present in the moment.
The pandemic has forced all of us to slow down, to spend time with ourselves, and to listen to the voices in our heads, and many of us have had to forgo the distractions we so often employ in order to avoid such thoughts and periods of reflection.
At first, these inner voices caused me great anxiety– similar to the conversations I have with others when I do not give them the gift of truly listening.
What I have attempted to do, is to listen first to my own voices without any sort of judgement. This allows me to interview my feelings and thoughts, and ask what they are trying to tell me, and where they are guiding me to. Instead of being afraid and needing to either distract myself or respond immediately, I do my best to pause, and remind myself that all I am doing is gathering information; nothing has to change for me, if I do not want it to.
Recently, I have begun taking the same approach in conversations with others. Instead of listening solely for the purpose of responding, I strive to give the gift of listening, and actively hear what the other person is actually saying. In these instances, I am listening in order to hear what the other person is saying, as opposed to listening just to prepare my response. As this has caused me anxiety in the past, I am careful to remind myself that I am not in any danger, and that I am just collecting information previously unbeknownst to me. I remind myself that instead of listening to respond, or as some sort of obligation, I am listening for the purpose of connection, which ultimately will serve to feed my soul.
To some degree, I have found a method of listening that works for me, and it has been incredibly beneficial in my conversations, and in my overall level of connection with others, and with myself. And while my method of listening certainly has been helping, I’m truly interested in what works best for you.
How do you listen to others? How do you like others to listen to you? And how do you avoid the pitfall of immediately responding, especially when you find yourself engaged in a conversation that you might not agree with? Finally, how do you deal with the negative voices inside your head? The chatter can be loud at times, and we all know that different things work best for different people.
This week, let’s try and have one– maybe two– conversations where we are truly engaged and listening. Let’s see what happens; I promise we will be better off if we put in the effort. Let’s listen to hear one another— there is a reason why the smartest people are often the best listeners, and not the loudest talkers in the room.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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