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Living Well: The Art of Listening

by on April 20, 2017 5:00 AM

One of the biggest benefits of therapy and working with a therapist isn’t necessarily what the therapist says with words in the session. Sometimes the real healing comes from feeling heard and validated. Another person is fully present, tuned in, and engaged in hearing you express your thoughts and feelings. This simple act can make you feel lighter, less isolated, and more positive in general.

Most of the time when we are having a conversation with someone else, we are focused less on what they are saying and more on how we will respond. We can be distracted thinking about our grocery list or silently judging the person for what they are saying. 

This lack of connection can lead to shallow relationships and feeling disconnected to ourselves and others. It may be very rare that we actually take the time to stop, listen, and really be present with another person. This will result in feeling distracted and disconnected to yourself and others.

One of the things I love about the word listen is it also spells silent. When we are truly listening, we are silent, taking in what someone else is really saying. This silence creates a space for us to truly connect and share an authentic moment with another person.

When you truly slow down and focus on listening to someone else. you will be able to feel more empathy and compassion for others. You also can have this experience simply by listening to your feelings on a deeper level instead of minimizing or dismissing them. When you dismiss your feelings continually, you will feel an undercurrent of anxiety in your everyday life.

Practicing the art of listening gives you the chance to develop your ability to feel empathy for others instead of judging them. For example, next time a loved one begins to express their anger toward you, instead of feeling defensive, backing away, or avoiding them, be present with their feelings and truly listen to what they are saying. You will find that while the person is expressing their anger about something, they are really communicating pain.

Instead of feeling threatened or attacked by the anger, you begin to develop a more compassionate stance toward them and are able to connect and diffuse a potential argument.

One way to connect on a deeper level to the teenagers in your life is to take a step back and really listen on a deeper level when they are expressing frustration and anger. 

Listening allows the silence to give you a deeper insight and wisdom that is not available to you if you immediate go into lecture mode. Simply letting your emotional teenager express their anger and feelings will help develop a better bond and trust between you. They will be willing to share more of their feelings with you if they feel you are truly invested in listening to what they have to say before you judge or discipline.

Have you ever been around someone and every time you try to share something about your life they turn it around and begin talking about themselves? Or, they immediately compare it to a situation in their life, or they immediately give you advice on what you should do to fix the situation?

This will leave you feeling more frustrated after speaking with them instead of relieved. Evaluate the friend circle in your life, and if you are the one doing all the listening, take a step back from these shallow friendships and begin to search for some new, deeper connections.

Developing the ability to listen on a deep level is a spiritual practice that you can put into practice daily. It will bring greater peace into your everyday life and leave you feeling more connected to yourself and others.

Begin to be aware of how you interact with others. Are you really listening or just thinking about what you will say next? Start practicing the silence that listening can bring, and you will find your relationships deepen. You will feel greater peace, more compassion, empathy, and less anxiety in your everyday life. You also will find that you become less tolerant of people around you who interrupt or make every conversation about themselves.

Don’t settle for the shallow in your life. Make small changes daily that will develop your spiritual life and create more peace in everyday life. Listen and let the silence this creates enhance your life in every way!

You are worth it!

 



Meghan Lemery Fritz is a psychotherapist practicing at Sunpointe Health in State College.
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