Like everyone else, I have some bad habits… some more annoying than others… and one that I used to have in abundance was when confronted with someone’s problems, try to give them solutions, when that is not what they need. Nowadays I know better thanks to all that counselling training 🙂
One of the things I hope I’ve achieved over the past few years with studying counselling is a much improved listening ability and that this has not just culminated in a new professional career, but has rippled out so that my everyday listening skills have improved too.
Listening often seems to be seen as such a “passive” thing these days, we talk about problems and have solutions thrown at us left, right and centre. Very often these solutions include material things, which is not what’s really needed and in today’s material, driven society, such passivity seems to be classed as a weak thing. Well that’s how it comes across to me at times. Yet don’t you think that listening can be such a strong tool… and one that we all possess if we can but still our own minds a bit more?
One aspect of listening is when others need to talk or cry on our shoulders: listening shows that we care about them, their feelings and their thoughts. By providing a listening ear, we allow others to vocalise their thoughts which in turn helps them to validate themselves, their thoughts, feelings (and who doesn’t need that at one time or another)… we are then showing them receptivity, help and thoughtfulness.
Then there’s another aspect that by listening we learn things… like learning in school, or from parents, from colleagues at work… chatting or gossiping with friends, learning likes and dislikes of others… it means we can debate and discuss political, ecological or societal issues.
These are some external examples.
“You get wise from listening and regret from speaking.”
~~ Thought for Today ~~
We can also use listening for inner work. By quietening the mind, sitting with silence, we listen to our bodies, our minds, our nerve endings… our intuition, our gut feelings. By listening to the “Inner”, this can help us to hear more in the external world… like silence, air, birdsong, wind, trees whispering, music playing, conversations, trains, animals… and so on.
Or how about when we listen to what someone tells us about ourselves… when people don’t like what they hear, they very often just close down, filtering out what doesn’t fit in with their perspective, their reality… their “inner world”. Sometimes, being open and listening to someone else’s opinion could facilitate healing and growth when we need it the most.
For myself, I’ve learnt to love listening… that it isn’t weak, that it is in fact a strength and that by doing so, I can help others when they need to vocalise. And that by actively listening, I can hear what’s being said in reality, both explicitly and implicitly… instead of making assumptions or filling in gaps that have appeared when my brain decided to go wander off somewhere else mid-conversation.
Some questions this week to ask yourself this week would be:
What does the term “listening” mean for you?
How do you feel when people listen to you?
How good are you at listening to others?
What can you learn from listening?
What do you listen to? Or For?
How can you improve your listening skills?
What benefit will listening bring to your life?
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead ♥
© 2012 Michelle Payne
Image origin: Gregory Colbert