Listening is a lost art

Globally, we have forgotten how to listen. On a smaller scale, my family has forgotten how to listen (did we ever even know?). Tonight was another night spent around the fire pit (with significantly less alcohol however). I watched and tried to listen as everyone attempted to out-compete everyone else (I admit I joined in a few times, desperately trying to find one thing I could be heard on). People were poised at the edge of their seats plotting the half millisecond of pause needed to throw out their next nugget before someone else snagged the spotlight. It went on for a few hours.  The more desperate the attempts to be heard, the louder the decibels. I know where I get my annoying habit of cutting people off.  It’s a culture here (globally and on a more micro scale). We are so bombarded with information and attempts at swaying our opinions (and wallets) that we lose the ability to listen, really listen, to what the other has to say.  We want to be heard (or at last be able to voice our thoughts and opinions) so we spend all our time thinking about what we will say next.  We comprehend only enough of the other’s message to speak a response.  We miss the totality of what they are saying. It’s more pronounced when there’s competition to have the “meatiest” nugget to which everyone clutches.  I know I participate in this more often since moving back in with my family.  My wife reminds me regularly how I keep cutting her off and not letting her finish her thought/story/anecdote. It’s not a bad thing though.  I want to be called out when I do it.  I hate when others do it to me, so I want to be made aware of when I do it to others. I want to remember how to listen. I want to remember how to participate fully in being there for another to hear them. I know I have a lot of issues around being heard. I think that is some of what drives this blog (and what makes therapy so rewarding and vital); I want my story heard.  I want my experience and my burden shared.  While De often says the healing does not come from the details and the telling, I’d like to counter that a huge amount of healing is tied in to being heard, especially if you spent your life being silenced (as most abuse survivors have). The experience of being heard is hugely powerful and affirming.  It reminds us that we are not, in fact, inconsequential. It tells us we are not alone…
Some of the worst days for me are ones in which I feel alone in my pain. I may be surrounded by bodies, but I carry what I do in solitude.  Part of that is learning/conditioning (“you can’t trust anyone else”, “people will always let you down”…) so I make every attempt to hide what’s happening.  But part of it is also the fact that people just don’t care to listen. Why bother wasting the little energy I have in trying to speak when it will only fall on deaf ears, ears that are too busy working-up a retort to really let sink-in the meaning of what I’m saying…
I need to learn how to listen. I used to know how to do that once, but I have since forgotten. Never underestimate the power of truly listening to another person. Stories need to be heard as much as they need to be told.


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