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PRACTICE LISTENING to ANOTHER PERSON
To listen (and to be heard) is therapeutic for both the giver and receiver. It’s connection and communion and it appears to be in short supply these days, despite our technological interconnectedness. Reports of loneliness have skyrocketed, so what can one person do, in their own local sphere of influence, in their day-to-day lives to help others feel less lonely?
Practice listening to another person today, giving this person your full, undivided, quality attention which is an act of love. (You decide who, for how long or how often, when, where etc…).
Try listening without thinking about what you are going to say next; if you get distracted by your own thoughts while the person is talking to you, just notice and refocus on giving the person your full attention again. (This may happen repeatedly and it’s ok.)
Try listening NOT to get information from the other person to do anything with it, but simply BE present in the activity of listening. You can enjoy the practice of listening (not striving to be perfect at listening) in a nice, relaxed way. Enjoy the trial and error of your practice; enjoy gift-giving, even if your gift is poorly constructed or irregular, imperfect. Imagine a child tries to show you how much he loves you by making a “gift” for you in his childish, imperfect way. Those gifts are among the most meaningful and most fulfilling!
Simple practice, potentially HUGE impact!
You are giving this person who you commit to listening to a tremendous gift– your attention. Your attention is precious! Your attention is your life! By choosing to direct it and sustain it on another person shows that you value this person, and if you listen without expectations or conditions– well that’s even more powerful. Believe it or not, many people don’t value themselves enough, never mind value themselves unconditionally. They don’t think they “mean” very much. Or they believe that they have to do something or be a certain way to have value. Some don’t believe they are “worth it.” Even the people who appear confident and successful on the outside may not feel that way on the inside. Showing them some quality attention may have deep and lasting impact and matter more than you might guess.
It is an act of unconditional love to give your attention to another person. Cultivating that intentional practice for you will be healthy and provide others with opportunities to accept love (many have trouble receiving).
If the person you choose can fully and consciously accept your attention, great! If not, that’s okay too. If a person is unaware or unconscious of the gift they are being given, try not to be disappointed. We aren’t focused on results. We control what we can– which is our intentional choice to give, to offer another our attention, and we let go of what we cannot control, which is the other person and their choices and behavior etc…
In this modern world, people are very distracted and busy– so much so that they remain unaware of the rich and quality attention that someone may be offering them. If we give them enough opportunities, that will increase the likelihood that they will realize or awaken to the love that’s surrounding them.
Give people (and yourself) as many opportunities to learn as possible.
Rather than focusing on outcomes (putting all our hope and expectations into what will “come of this” act of listening), just focus on and be with the process— the listening. Just listen and enjoy your efforts to listen with your ears, your eyes, your heart, and your whole self.
At the end of your day, write about your experiences with listening. Write about what you learned from your act and efforts to listen deeply to another person, (write about yourself, about the other person, the experience– the connection). Written reflection about your experiences will reinforce your commitment to and appreciation of the moments of your life and help you develop good, life-enhancing habits that help you and others continue to learn and grow more wise and well.
*Be honest & compassionate with yourself as you write.