I’ve always been a listener.
Part of it comes through childhood indoctrination–the whole ‘children should be seen but not heard’ thing.
Also, when I was young, I recall my mother telling me that boys preferred to talk about themselves; if I wanted to be liked, it would behoove me to listen and ask questions versus talking about myself. For better or worse, I took that to heart.
But, it is more than that.
Listening is one of my gifts.
Listening is simply who I am; it is one of my gifts. I feel most comfortable listening. I love connecting in and giving my full presence to someone.
Because of this, people have thanked me time after time for listening to them, for giving them space to be themselves and to share their stories and their pain. Many even apologize after surprising themselves by the depth of their sharing. They apologize in order to make certain it was actually ok to share in that way. It was. It is.
Listening to others is easy; listening to myself? Not so much.
While I’ve naturally been good at listening to others, it took a long time for me to be able to give myself the same gift of presence and non-judgemental attentiveness.
When the scared, angry, sad, lonely parts of me would surface, I’d push them back down, telling them they were wrong, were bad, that they didn’t have the right to exist.
I wouldn’t listen.
I wouldn’t give them the opportunity to share their stories and their pain.
Learning to listen to myself.
Eventually, this started to shift. I began to be able to meet the sad, scared parts of myself with compassionate listening. With love.
A couple of days ago, I found this entry (from 2010!) in my journal. I’m sharing it in the hopes that it will be useful for you as you deepen in your ability to listen to the fearful, sad, lonely, scared parts of yourself:
“…I know that when I’m documenting a conversation between the hurt, upset part of me and the other parts of me that are more calm and centered and witness-y, often, all the upset part wants is to be listened to. No techniques, no ‘I-see-you, no I-love-you’s’, no acknowledging even. More, just really high-quality listening. Because, when the listening is there, the energy says all those things and the words are not necessary or wanted…“
I continue by noting that just listening can be really difficult.
Talking, validating, giving advice or trying to fix the situation in some way is much easier… It can be really uncomfortable to simply listen.
The urge to fix, to help, to give advice combined with fear that just listening isn’t enough, that I ‘should’ be doing more, etc can be extraordinarily powerful. And yet, so often, listening is all that is needed.
I’ve found this to be true, by the way, regardless of whether I’m listening to myself or to another.
What makes listening to the hurting parts of ourselves easier?
So, what makes simply listening to ourselves (and to others) easier? What helps us maintain a calm, loving presence that allows for the pain to be held and perhaps even transformed?
These are questions I’ve asked, and continue to ask, throughout the years.
Every time I do, Owl swoops in on silent wings to offer her medicine. She shows up time and time again to assist me with both deep listening and with meeting the urge to fix or advise.
Now, I want to share her medicine with you.
With the assistance of Owl, I’m offering a free class in August called From Overwhelm to Peace with Owl. One of the things we’ll practice is how to listen to the hurting parts of ourselves in a way that leads to healing and transformation.
You can register for the class here.
I’m so looking forward to sharing more about the Medicine of Owl. Please join us!