Filtering by Tag: listening

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.
— Erich Fromm

For the past few years, I have been fortunate to be part of an academic community that is constantly examining and re-evaluating how as both individuals and a community we can create a welcoming, more inclusive environment. Coming into this community and these conversations, I felt like I was already a pretty open-minded person and that my actions and words provided a welcoming space for others. But, as I continued to go deeper in these conversations, I realized I had a lot to learn!

These conversations weren’t always easy, and to be honest there were times when I felt myself resisting what I was learning. Some of the things challenged the beliefs I grew up with. At times, I felt people were being over sensitive and too “PC.” It was in these moments, when I really stopped, listened to others, and was honest with myself that I realized that I wasn’t always doing all I could to create a more inclusive environment.

I am a white female that grew up in a middle class family. I was always provided a good education; college wasn’t an “if,” but a “where.” I went on a variety of family vacations, played multiple sports, and was exposed to many artistic and cultural endeavors. I grew up in a strong female family so I was always encouraged to speak my mind. I had my own personal struggles and still do, but on a global scale I am privileged and my voice is usually heard. It’s hard for me to even understand that other people don’t have the ability to be seen or heard as they are intended and should be.

I decided that I wanted to educate myself more. I wanted to at least try to understand the struggle and imbalance of power that still very much exists in our world in a variety of ways. Throughout the last few months, I kept coming back to the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” The idea behind this saying is that sometimes it is better to not know everything about a given situation. Something about that statement doesn’t seem comforting in today’s society. Is ignorance really bliss or is it actually irresponsible?

I know that people aren’t always provided communities, whether they are academic, spiritual, or social, that encourage them to dig deep about what they believe, how they represent themselves, and then offered education on expanding their beliefs. However, as we continue to get older, isn’t it our responsibility to be curious and seek information, ask questions, listen, and re-evaluate in order to become an active participant in life?

The more we continue to feed into our limiting beliefs or microaggressions (even if they seem to be small and not harmful), the more we perpetuate an exclusive and imbalanced environment. If we truly come from a place of love over fear in our lives then we become more open to understanding, which leads to accepting things that are different from us.

It first starts with a commitment to analyzing our own thoughts/words and behaviors/actions. When we realize that a limiting belief comes up, there are tools to shift our mindset such as thought stopping and positive replacement. As with any shift, it takes time and practice. There will be moments where it’s not easy and we do fall back into our limiting beliefs, but wouldn’t the uneasiness and struggle be worth it if we all committed to practicing “love over fear” mind, body, and spirit? Just think of how much we would grow and evolve not only as individuals, but also as a community, country, and world. Ignorance isn’t bliss; understanding, supporting, and leading with love is bliss.

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
— Buddha

This quote has presented itself to me several times this week, and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. The next month is filled with many wonderful opportunities starting with presenting at a national conference this week followed by two different workshops I will be leading in different cities. Though I am very excited and ready for these opportunities, I am also anxious and nervous about them. Sometimes, I begin to stress over how “successful” they will be, how many participants I’ll have, etc. I remind myself of this quote. Using it as a trigger word, I take a deep breath and then focus on being present

Being present is not as easy as it sounds; it is a practice. But just like the mental tools we have to shift our mindset, we also have tools to help us be more present. This week I would like to focus on mindful listening. Have you ever had the experience where you are talking to someone, but instead of listening you are just waiting for the person to stop talking just so you can what you want to say? This happens often in life whether that be in meetings and wanting to share our brilliant idea or in a fight with your significant other when our hurt is the only thing we feel matters. Many times what we have to offer when we aren’t listening doesn’t even make sense when we step back.

Whenever thinking about mindful listening, I am reminded of when I am coaching actors in a scene. With many young actors, they are focused on what their lines are and when they say them. They just want to hear their cue line and then deliver the line with what they think is raw emotion and great acting. However, it usually comes out as fake or contrived. That’s because they were too focused on what they had to say and not focused on listening and responding accordingly.  

The theater saying, “acting is reacting,” can be helpful when practicing mindful listening. In order to react authentically, we need to listen actively. Here are a few techniques for practicing mindful listening that can be applied to both private conversations and group conversations:

-       Can you repeat what the person said to you?

-       Are you making eye contact?

-       Before you respond, take a breath and ask yourself “is what you originally intended to say still relevant?”

-       Are you making space for others to share or do you dominate conversations?

-       Are you offering and participating in the conversation or do you hide?

The last two techniques are very useful when engaging in group conversations. There tends to be the people who always voice their opinions, have an idea, a concern or a solution. Then there are the people who never share their opinion or offer suggestions. Take a moment to figure out which group you most identify with. I challenge you if you are in the first group, to make space for others, concentrate on your breath, and ask whether what you feel compelled to say is necessary. If you are in the latter group, I challenge you to actively listen and find a time where you decide to participate, owning what it is you have to offer to the group.

Mindful listening provides us with a fuller experience where we are engaged with the people around us. Consequently, it leads to stronger and more meaningful relationships. Try some of the techniques this week and then reflect on the changes you notice in how you engage with others and your fulfillment in what you do.

 

Are you ready to live a more fulfilled and authentic life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min complimentary coaching call!

Check out the workshop I will be running on Oct 24th - Manifesting Your Dreams: pushing beyond your fears and obstacles. Email me to reserve your spot!

 

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