One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to really listen to them. I mean listening without judgement or interruption and caring about them enough to let them be free to express who they are to you. We all want to be heard and not necessarily understood but accepted. However, in today’s society we’ve learned to become so opinionated that when we’re in conversations with others we feel the need to give them a piece of our mind even when it isn’t wanted.
Have you ever noticed how a lot of conversations can become exhausting because you and the other person are constantly trying to throw in your opinions or relative experiences? One thing that really used to annoy me is when I’d be telling a story about something that happened and a nearby listener would butt in and start talking about their own experience.
Growing up I was always moving because my father was in the military. We never stayed in one place for more than a few years and consequently I never learned how to develop close relationships with people. However, the positive side of this experience is that I learned just how precious and meaningful a gift it is to listen and let someone just be. I’ve always been really good at tuning into people’s emotions but being painfully shy I didn’t come across that way. As an adult though, I made a conscious effort to build deep emotional connections with people and although I didn’t really know how, I knew that being a good listener would show me the way. And actually, listening to others quickly became one of my favorite things to do. I love sitting back, quieting my mind and letting the other person just talk…about whatever. I started to notice how quickly people would open up to me about intimate details of their lives and they would go on and on and it made me feel great that they trust me enough to tell me these intimate details of their lives. Not only did I feel like I was giving people a chance to be who they really are without any judgement but I quickly learned that listening to others and learning about others is something that I truly love. This has been one of the best things I’ve ever learned about myself and I continue to learn more about myself by listening to others.
I call it listening with your body. Why? Because when you listen with your mind, your thoughts start forming judgements that can get in the way of seeing the other person for who they really are. When you listen with your mind, this is what causes you to want to interrupt with your opinion or predict where the conversation is going. I’m not saying that listening with your mind is always a bad thing. Sometimes we need to listen with our mind such as when I’m listening to patients tell me about their symptoms and I’m using my mind to form a picture of what could be going on with them. In the logical sense, we have to use our minds when taking in information so that we can form a solution or a better understanding. But when you’re listening to someone talk about their life or about themselves, this is the time to sit back, take a break from your mind and let their essence be felt. It really is one of the most precious gifts you can give anyone and the quickest way to building meaningful and lasting relationships. So how do actively listen with your body?
Focus on your inner body. To really listen to someone, you have to take your attention from the busy thoughts of your mind and focus it inward to the energy constantly flowing through your body. Your whole body is alive with energy from the blood flowing through it every little cell constantly working. Don’t think about it but just try to feel it. Let your thoughts fade and focus on the energy your body. It almost feels as though there’s a force field surrounding you that is completely unique to you and when you focus on it enough that you’re free of your thoughts, you become one with this field and you’ll be amazed at how others notice you more. It’s becoming one with your energy and it’s peaceful and inviting to others to connect with you.
Just be completely open and natural. We’re all so unique that it’s hard to put any set of steps to achieving this but it’s all about being free to letting others connect with who you really are. It’s hard to allow others to connect with us when we naturally fear judgment all the time but when you put blocks up to others because you’re afraid of being judged, you automatically shut yourself off from being able to truly connect with others. Listening is a clear path to true connections and to really be able to listen, you have to be open.
Start with spending some time alone. Explore yourself and learn about yourself because the more you know about yourself, the more comfortable you are with letting others see who you really are. Alone time is always a blessing because it allows you to connect with yourself. The more you can connect with who you really are, the more you can connect with others and who they really are.
Smile. Smiling instantly lifts your spirits to a level of openness and it’s an open and obvious invitation to others to strike up a conversation.
Let your emotions come through naturally and don’t hold back. Don’t worry about what the other person is thinking about you. When they’re talking to you, let your emotions come out naturally. Whether it is laughing, smiling, surprise or whatever, just be natural. When your emotions to what the other person is saying come out naturally, this shows how genuine you are and that what they are saying has an effect on you. This shows your interest and encourages them to go deeper and share more if they wish to.
Be grateful. Yes I know how busy we are and it can seem as though we have no time for meaningful adult conversations but it is such a blessing when you can really connect with someone through conversations and listening. When someone opens up to you, let yourself be grateful. Let the gratitude flow through you for the opportunity to learn about someone and have the chance to form a connection with someone. When you allow yourself to be grateful for this no matter your own situation, you see the real beauty in it. It’s simplistic and so nurturing to you and to the other person.
Don’t forget to talk! Listening isn’t all about being quiet and receptive. If you’re comfortable enough, share your own story or whatever you’d like to share about yourself. Just don’t interrupt the other person to do so and when you speak, let it be natural. Don’t say what you think they want to hear. Say what you feel.
Practice this with your children too. Listen to them without intervening with your “mom knows everything” guidance. This instills the trust that they can come to you with anything. All children want more than anything is to be heard and accepted by their parents and the quickest path to giving them this is by allowing them to speak freely.
A lot of people think they’re good listeners. However, to really give the gift of listening is to do so free of judgement or thought. To really listen is to listen with your spirit and body and not your mind. To give the other the freedom and space to be who they really are and to appreciate who they really are. When you can achieve this, you find yourself craving more and more emotional connections with others and you feel that you are well on your way to unconditional love.