Recently I have found myself thinking about my interpersonal relationships. The result of this inquiry has led to the realization that often I do not allow things to unfold as they are meant to because in my attempts to protect myself I try to control everything (and everyone) around me. The problem with this strategy, despite its presumed safety and predictability, is that by attempting to manage everything and everyone, I am unable to fully be me or allow another to fully be them.
To begin to counter act this tendency, I have opted to try an experiment of practicing active listening within each of my relationship. The goal behind this pursuit is simple, it is often said that only through listening can understanding, and thus connection, be obtained. This connection in turn provides a deeper sense to self as well as to the other.
So the question I have for you, the one I am working to answer for myself this week is, where in your life might you begin to practice active listening? Where might you, as well as your relationship with another, be better served if you were able to simply listen with no response in mind? How might the universe, and all its inhabitants, be attempting to provide you with the very answers you seek?
And remember, to actively listen, one listens with the sole purpose of fully understanding another person’s perspective – without judgment. The individual listens not just the words that are spoken, but to the underlying feelings and emotions that may or may not be explicitly expressed.
To be able to listen in this manner requires that you quiet your internal chatter (mostly the ego that may want to protect or defend your thoughts or positions on a subject). Borrowing the words of Brandon Heath, you’re trying to listen to their whole heart with your whole heart. In doing so, you might not only learn something deeper about the other as well as your self.