Settling into our new Denver digs quite magically and rocking the nesting life like you have never known. I seriously type this from a recliner couch, covered in a neon quilt, in slippers with a cup of hot tea. Major nest sesh going down right now. So, upon pulling up to our driveway for the first time two weeks ago, we noticed some folded papers wrapped in a plastic bag. Amazingly enough, they have the news written all over them. I believe they called them newspapers in the olden days, even reading them over hot coffee sitting with loved ones. No technology necessary.
Yes, we have someone's Wall Street Journal subscription! Will call soon to switch over.
I actually will write an entire other post on the joys of reading the paper. We have old ones stacked in the bathroom, in our reading room and I saved a few articles placed in my breakfast nook.
Reading the Health & Wellness section this past week, my eyes stumbled across the article, "How Well Are You Listening?" by Elizabeth Bernstein. I urge you to read the entire article, very well written and great food for thought.
You may or may not know, I have a tattoo on my right inner wrist, written in my own handwriting, that reads 'listen'. I literally need a reminder, a note to self in permanent ink to listen deeper, connect and be present. When Chris and I first started dating, I knew he was the real deal when we were at a dinner party and I kept interrupting people (unknowingly) and finally he put his hand on my forearm as I was about to interrupt someone (yet again) and said, 'hey babe, not your turn to speak'. Wake up call.
Elizabeth writes in her WSJ article, "Experts say that we are naturally just not good at listening...we have a tendency to swap stories, so we interrupt. We're uncomfortable with emotions, so we avoid focusing too closely on someone else's. We'd rather talk about ourselves, so we rush the talker along."
Guilty. And man, come on self and human beings. Let's do better. Let's be better to one another.
I have been considering the common themes that make me a terrible listener. Here is my list:
1) iPhone. Period.
2) A desire to share my story and contribute to the conversation or really, to make people think I am smart. I am too busy concentrating on the things I want to say in that moment, I have completely zoned out what the other person is adding on. Hello (super)ego, stop talking so loud.
3) Stress. Easily distracted with a to do list, a bank account or bad skin, stress can take my internal psyche to an entirely different playing field.
4) Fear of tears. If I am about to cry, my survival mode takes me on the next direct flight out of there. Can't listen when I am seeking exit strategies (i.e. the door, a bathroom, another person in the area that I can distract myself with) and clenching my entire body to stop the emotional floodgates. Just can't.
Bernstein writes on and explains the practice of 'active listening'. I am sure you have heard about it, when you are actually listening, actively. You put the phone away, make eye contact, ask questions, becomes interested, show interactive facial expressions and reflect back what you have heard.
Heard of it? Tried it? Believe in it? Been doing it lately?
One of the greatest gifts we can give our loved ones, our friends and family, even strangers at the train stop or our local barista, is the gift of being heard. We live in a place where so often emotions are bottled, words miscommunicated or missed altogether, and "oh, what did you say?" repeat conversations are commonplace because I was on instagram or my email. We stray to share online versus offline. We talk to the dogs, instead of one another. We create a practice of INactive listening and it become habit.
Active listening is a choice you have to make and a practice you have to action.
My mentor once said that the greatest act of love is listening. Absolutely agree. What a beautiful reminder that you exist in the presence of another human being and you are heard, acknowledged and loved. Lean in, listen up and love one another.