We All Need Someone to Listen to Our Stories(Part I)
Have you ever spoken to someone about your feelings? How did you feel after that? Was it a feeling of guilt or relief? Did you find yourself lightened and relaxed? Or did you become more worried about judgment, rejection or even fear for your privacy?
Many times, I have shared my worries, feelings, emotions, memories and life issues with friends. But sometimes, not always I have received conscious listening from the person whom I shared with which gave me a feeling of being understood. Now I would like to share with you the needs of being listened to, by the right person.
Being Listened to Vs Being Heard?
If we think carefully, from time to time, we might find ourselves being listened to by others or listening to others. On the contrary, many times we have been just hearing but not listening or being heard but not listened to.
The difference is when we are listening to someone or some thing, we are presenting our whole mind and body to the present. Similarly, when the other party is listening to us, we feel the person’s full presence which gives us a sense of importance and the feeling of being taken care of.
Partners/Friends: You meet your friend or partner, in the evening after a busy day for the both of you. Half of your brain is still working on issues at work; at the same time, your partner might have other things in his or her mind too.
When your friend is telling you about his day, and you are listening to him; suddenly your mind flashes back to your meeting in the early morning and your happy feeling is coming back to you. Now you have missed half of the story and your partner was explaining about a sad incident that happened just before meeting you.
By this time he is expecting you to show your empathy, while you are smiling at the picture in your mind about the fruitful meeting in a happy mood.
What would happen then, wont he feel sad and rejected? He might even feel angry and react in a nasty way !
Parent and Child: Your child is drawing a picture, while you are on the phone with one of your friends. After a few minutes, you hang-up and your child comes over to you to show her painting.
She explains what her story is all about with lots of curiosity and happiness. But you are still thinking about the news you have just received over the phone. Although you are hearing, you cannot see the beautiful picture and the story behind it.
What would happen? She might feel rejected or ignored, demotivated or sad. You may also break down her self-confidence.
You and a Stranger: You are on a bus, reading a newspaper. A stranger is sitting next to you and sees the page you are reading. Then you start a conversation about the issue you are reading and about how it is depicted in the media.
She is listening to you; then your conversation becomes more interesting and you talk about other non-related matters which seem to be interesting. By the time you reach your destination, you have talked about several matters and you didn’t even feel the time passing by; still you did not ask each other’s name. You say goodbye and leave the bus happily and wave to each other.
What is the difference? Who is more important? The topic, the stranger, your child or your partner?
The important thing is how engaged we are in listening to the other person regardless of the topic or speaker.
By listening to each other and by being listened to, we feel important and taken care of. We do not pay attention to the rest of the world but to the person who is talking to us or listening to us.
At these moments we feel that time is non-existent and that we are nowhere but in the presence of each other.