Last night I had a dream that I was in a training. Everyone was sharing their journal entries after some very serious self-inquiry. My friend was sharing her entry with me, but there were so many distractions around me that I didn’t listen to what she had to say. It was obvious from her face that she was waiting for my reaction, and I felt bad that I hadn’t fully concentrated on her words as they meant so much to her.
Yes, it was a dream, but there have been many times in my life that this happened to me. Someone was talking to me, and I would wait for them to take a breath so I could get my opinion in. Or I’m on the phone with someone, but I also click through Facebook. I’m introduced to someone at an event, and I’m actually listening to the music, so I don’t remember their name. The worst was when my son, Stephen, brought it to my attention that I tuned him out when he spoke about his video games. Yes it was hard for me to understand some of what he was talking about, but it was important to him.
It’s hard to admit, but by doing so I became present to the fact that if I truly care about what people say to me, then I need to listen with my whole body, mind, and spirit. Of course it depends on the situation. A friend and I may be shooting the breeze and just gabbing to pass the time. We may be talking while walking or paddle boarding, so the multi-tasking is appropriate. However, when someone else’s body language is serious, tense, or upset, I now tune out the world and focus completely on them.
The alternative is like my dream. She feels bad that I didn’t hear her, and I feel bad that I didn’t take the time to listen. Journaling is about being honest. And being honest about when you aren’t completely authentic is tough to do. I don’t want to regret not taking the time to fully absorb what someone trusts enough to tell me. I want to be there 100%. Now I know that I’m listening.
Have there been times in your life that you tune out or don’t give someone 100% of your attention and it caused tension or upset them? Do you remember a time when you didn’t feel listened to? Write about how you can fully listen the next time you speak to this person or let them know that you need their full attention.