I'm a very big fan of listening because it holds great power. In our Western culture speaking is often praised just like extroverted qualities are admired. Yet so much comes from knowing how to listen well.
I began reflecting on the act of listening when I came across the work of Carl Rogers. Rogers was an American psychologist and one of the leaders of the humanistic movement which believes that we each hold within us a drive toward self-actualisation. In his book Becoming a Person, Rogers spoke about the deep connection that happens when we enter someone else's world and truly meet them. There is a lot of current discussion about our tribal nature and our intrinsic need to belong. And I believe that being heard plays a vital role in deepening our sense of belonging. When I feel truly heard, I know I matter, I feel respected, I am accepted.
" I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. " Maya Angelou
The art of listening is multi-sensorial. Of course we listen with our ears but our whole body is geared up to pick up the myriad queues we all send and receive all the time. A fleeting gesture, a side gaze, a change of skin tone or the alteration of a person's breathing can say so much if we are attentive. When we mute our own thoughts, hold off our need to make a point, to rescue or change another, we can hear so much more.
When I listen to me, I honour me.
It is important to learn to listen to others and it is important to learn to listen to ourselves. I believe authenticity is the birthplace of fulfilment. We all have an inner voice that knows what is best for us. It is not the voice in our head, it is more subtle. It is our place of truth, our inner wisdom and, in order to hear it, we need to quieten the outside noise. Society's expectations, the demands of others and internal chatter of shoulds or can't do a great job at masking our inner voice and it takes conscious effort to connect with our truth.
When we choose to listen to and honour our authentic self, a magical process takes place. It is a journey that leads to greater fulfilment, a deeper sense of peace and serenity and enhanced inner strength.
" Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. " Mahatma Gandhi
Whether the moment calls for us to listen to another or listen to our truth, the act of listening is the choice to respect - to respect another human being and to respect ourselves.
Listening is a practice. I am often reminded to pay more attention, to stop and listen, to be more present. My children remind me, my body reminds me and when I don't listen or hear but don't honour my inner whisper life reminds me.
How do you feel when you truly listen? How connected do you feel in those moments of deep listening? How do you feel when you feel heard?
What or who are you not listening to? And what would change if you did truly listen?
What within you do you need to grant more respect to?
I would love to hear your own reflections and start a conversation that helps all of us learn, be inspired and grow. So post your comments and let's get sharing!