Are you listening to me? I had this experience yesterday; an acquaintance asked how my sister was doing. As I shared about her I could see he was not listening. He looked engaged, his face was pointed at me, but something was off. As soon as I finished my sentence he launched into a story about himself and an experience he had. So really you just want to talk about yourself. Do you ask me these questions as an opening for talking about yourself? Do you even care or remember what I said? I don’t think so.
Thing is, he is nice guy, he didn’t even see what he did. He probably thinks we had a nice conversation. His experience was so very different than mine. And it happens all the time. While we are listening we are preparing our next thought, our response,our words. And maybe we are missing some really important stuff.
Being heard is essential to our well being. What happens when we feel heard? We feel acknowledged, we know we matter, that what we think and say has substance and is important. Important enough for someone to stop their own thoughts and listen to ours. It is validating.
So why does this happen, where we jump forward in our thoughts before we hear out the other person? I think one reason is that people want to share their stories. We want connection. Long long ago we shared our stories, we shared our lives around the hearth, at the sewing tables, while preparing meals, during long dark winters. People shared stories. That was how we learned our history and our life lessons. That is innate in us, that need to communicate and be connected. Somehow we have lost those storytelling skills. But not the need for the storytelling.
|“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
So we are all out here trying to tell our story, in a fast paced electronic world. I am sitting here alone in my apartment typing my story to share with you. Things have changed so much, our world has both grown and shrunk. But we still need that human connection, hearing the voice, seeing their eyes, sharing laughter and smiles one to one. Yesterday I was with my sister and I had something to tell her but we busy at that moment. So I said ” oh it’s a whole story” and her response was ” great I like stories”. Yes we like to share our stories, but we need to listen to the stories being offered to us.
Because that is the other part, we are so darn busy. My life is simple and I am busy. Life gets busy, all kinds of things fills our days: raising families, working, maybe 2 jobs, doing volunteer work, have a scheduled workout routine, finding time for friends, being involved the church, being a caretaker, a million things make up the tapestry of our lives. Listen? For that we have to slow down. We have to make time. We have to.
I know to have anything manifest in my life I have to become that thing. If I want love, I must be love. If I want peace, I have to be in a place of peace, Want joy? Be joy. So if I want you to listen to my story, I have to listen to yours. And as always, it starts with me. I have to put out the energy for it to return to me. I want to be heard,. I want to tell my story. I want you to listen to me, acknowledge me, actually hear me. So I am going to go out in the world and listen the stories. Really hear them. To not think about how I want to respond, what I am going to say. But listen, and then take a breath and say to the person, thank you for sharing your story. I have learned something from you. I appreciate you trusting me with your story. And then, when the time is right, I know I can share my story and really be heard.