The primary reason I share is to persuade others to share. Hiding would be far easier and more comfortable.
Sharing and listening are what are missing in our world and I say that as a person who’s first-hand experience in the area.
The three-month residential workshop that I did at Cold Mountain Institute (the Canadian equivalent of Esalen) was a crash course in sharing and listening. If I were to boil down to the one common denominator that potpourri of workshops was about, sharing and listening is what I would say.
What do I mean by sharing? Well, I don’t mean gossiping or judging or advising or persuading. I do mean describing how it is for you. Sharing is descriptive. Here’s where I am. Here’s what’s happening for me, Here’s how I feel. Here’s what pains me. Here’s what makes me bliss out.
And by listening I also don’t mean advising, coaching, persuading, etc. I mean hearing deeply what the other person says and mirroring back our understanding. Nothing more. Who cares for my opinion or my advice when they’re hurting?
When I was training to be a group leader, I saw early on that people who needed to talk did not care a fig for my solutions; they wanted me to listen. So I dropped problem-solving therapy and just began to listen. I threw out the fifty-minute hour and just listened as long as they needed it
And voila! I stumbled upon “magic” therapy. The people who left my door had huge smiles on their faces. They did not know what I did. And they just wanted to get home to tell their spouses what they discovered.
Most people, whatever they think they’re doing, do not listen (period). I don’t make many absolute statements but I do make that one.
Such a way of being with each other as sharing and listening is like water on the desert. People come alive in the face of it. That’s why we create discussion groups. The informative aspect runs a far distant second. Sharing and listening comes first.
When people share themselves with others, love flows. When a person shares their breakdowns, their breakthroughs, or their puzzlement, just by the act of sharing, often, whatever it is that eludes them shows up.
Most people do not need advice. They need the listening space to say how it is for them – in an adequate amount of time and with someone getting what they’re saying – and the answer automatically arises for them in the space of their sharing and being heard.
I often say that I hear the truth of myself as it goes past my ears. I hear it at the same time you hear it and before that I did not know it any more than you did. My shares are often just as much news to me as they are to you.
I know that I can listen for hours to people without interrupting other than to show them that I understand what they said (so they can go on to the next point) or to share a small thing so that they get the sense that I’m not hiding by listening but have my ante in the pot.
The most I listened to another was eight hours. Others four hours. And I listened for those many hours without advising them once. Whatever it takes for them to get what it is that eludes them is fine with me.
Sharing is the great equalizer. The feelings of a prince are worth no more and no less than the feelings of a pauper.
Watch what happens when the owner of a large company shares with a customer. The minute the owner says how he feels, he places himself on an equal footing with the other. That information is exactly what the customer wants and makes the owner visible and vulnerable. And visible and vulnerable is where we need to go, I say.
I think that’s why folks in positions of authority, like policemen, will not be caught dead saying how they feel. And I also think that’s why the steady diet of crime dramas on TV keep us in our male, logical brain and is probably designed to do so. No one says how they feel.
Feelings are what people want to know about most. They tell us how we’re taking something. They give our point of view. They push us to act. They tell what direction we’ll go in. So they’re a totally important piece of information and one that most people leave out of their share.
Our shares are born equal and sharing makes us equal. And being equal is just a hop, skip and a jump from being one, I’m willing to wager. So I think sharing is a step towards unitive consciousness.
So tell me how you feel. Tell me what’s there for you. What’s coming up? And let me do the same. I want you to know me deeply, truly as I am. And I want to know you in the same way. I really do.