A few years ago, I remember being asked how I was doing. I replied honestly by sharing I was grieving. My parents had died within seven months of each other. The anniversaries of their deaths descended on my heart. I received a reply consisting of directives for how I needed to read a romance novel, watch a romantic comedy, and get on with my life.
Several years ago, I thought I had to pay people to listen to me. I did pay people to hold space for the dark content of many life experiences, and for their gentle affirmations and guidance. In recent years I have cultivated friendships with beloved ones and colleagues in which there’s patient listening, non-judgment, little interference in the unfolding of each other’s inner GPS, and much celebration of healthier choices each of us is making. Self-acceptance, self-love, and self-forgiveness expand.
I often wonder what it would be like to live in a world where more of us human beings practice compassionate, non-judgmental listening.
What new skills are needed for a break with the command/control paradigm and the creation of a trust and inspire paradigm for living?
What would it be like if humans gained a certain mastery in cultivating inner peace and fulfillment?
Have you ever honestly shared some content about your life and received a cascading waterfall of commands, unsolicited advice, pity, or “fixing” when what you desired was to be heard, seen, believed, held, and trusted?
When someone shares candidly, tearfully about a life experience and a person reacts with bossiness, I believe the bossiness comes from the now stirred up unprocessed internal shame. Internal sore spots get poked inside the person being bossy. They demonstrate little or no bandwidth for holding space for the discomfort, confusion, anguish, or grief of another human being. I think this happens because the person struggling to listen has not faced and felt their own internal discomfort, confusion, anguish, grief, or other feelings. They have not yet cultivated empathy and compassion for themselves and their hidden hurts.
The “make this go away” becomes so strong and mixed with anxiety—that an inability to listen takes place along with the cascade of commands, attempts to control, take over the narrative, and often a silencing of the other person.
Can we learn from one another instead of bossing each other?
Can we learn from one another in the listening, the quiet, safe places of soul sanctuary?
When you deeply listen to another person without inserting criticism, your opinions, or a laundry list of immediate solutions, you enhance your capacity to understand. You can hear and feel their humanity and your own humanity. You increase your bandwidth for holding space for the heartbreaking, horrifying, heartening, and hilarious. You create a safe harbor, a sanctuary for another person to share and be their complicated, multifaceted, tender, strong, brave, loving, and vulnerable self.
When you believe and trust another person has the wisdom inside themselves, you can confidently listen for their capacity to navigate their life. You know they can discover their own unique, creative solutions. Maybe a door will open for a collaborative approach with many possible pathways. Compassionate listening creates safety for another hurting, healing, grieving, happy human being.
May you become a peaceful, safe sanctuary in a sea filled with terrified, terrific, tenacious people.
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.