Archangel Michael said in An Hour with an Angel that the Company of Heaven is bringing spiritual partners together … and not gradually but as quickly as people can handle.
I look at what he says and want to serve that part of the Plan.
And so I say to myself: how can I contribute to that? And the way in which I see I can contribute is to share about listening and sharing. Because adequate listening and sharing is for me the basis of a successful relationship.
Let me begin with listening.
My Mother’s Listening
I can’t remember a single word my mother ever said to me or to anyone else. But everyone loved her. Why? Because she listened.
She could get right down there with you through all your trials and tribulations because that’s what her listening was: feeling what you were feeling, getting what you were getting, getting it down to her bones. As deep as one could go. A deep recreation of another’s experience.
When somebody listens to me that way, I’m able to get everything out on the table, all the pieces, all the chapters of the book. I see what the lay of the land is, what I’ve been missing or what’s eluded me for as long as it has.
I have a sunburst of understanding, an “Aha!” moment and realization. The pieces of the puzzle fall into place. And I feel a great deal of release. The truth has set me free. And you’ve facilitated that process through your listening.
That’s what listening is for me.
Magic Happens When We Listen
As far as I know, the vast majority of people turn their ear to their partner and listen while going over the shopping list in their mind. Their hearing doesn’t amount to much. It doesn’t lead to anyone’s understanding. And it doesn’t lead to release.
Their partner ends up feeling that they haven’t been listened to, no one cares enough to listen to them, etc. And then the arguments start.
To really listen to another, one has to put aside one’s ego and agenda and that is hard for most of us to do. We inject our opinions. We advise the other. We intrude ourselves into their process. We don’t give them much of a turn. That’s standard in our society.
But when I as a listener find myself able to put my ego and agenda aside and really hear another person, I know something magical occurs.
Sharing that flash of understanding with another, that release from problems that may have been plaguing them for years, that’s truly a magic moment for me. Isn’t that what most psychiatrists and psychologists are hired to do? Help us release ourselves from our pain?
When I was studying to be a therapist in Sociology, I offered my services as a counsellor on a voluntary basis, just to see what was involved in the process. And my experience was that all the advice I had to give nobody wanted. I was exhausting myself finding new advice. Everyone resisted. Problem-solving therapy wasn’t working for me.
And then what they wanted hit me. They wanted listening.
I changed my footing and began to listen. I penetrated listening as a skill about as much as I’ve penetrated anything. I listened for as long as was needed. And I found myself and the people around me rewarded.
I awoke to the value of listening, a gift from my mother.
How to Listen
I say it’s time for us all to start listening this way.
Listen to the words. Listen to the tone. Look at what the eyes say, what the hands say. Listen for patterns – motifs, themes, persistent complaints. Allow the full shape and weight of what’s happening to dawn on us. And feed back the real deal-breakers.
Really get your partner’s experience, as far as is safe. Be there with your partner as long as they need. And then mirror back your understanding to them, sparingly, pointedly.
Regard each sentence as a possible chapter heading. It may take several passes before they finish: one pass for the story (what happened); one pass for the emotions (how you feel); one pass for review (what you may have missed).
Listen without an agenda save serving your partner. Listen neutrally. Don’t jump in with your opinion. Refrain from advising. Let your partner solve their own problem. Just get them.
Allow them to get the full story out, until they have that sunburst of understanding, that moment of recognition of what is really going on here. Then you can stop.
Listen that far and I’d call that superior. Probably more remains, but I’d call that a great starter! (1)
I’m not aware of anything more important or a greater gift that could be given. I draw the attention of new couples first then to what I consider the very valuable contribution of listening.
(Continued in Part 2. Readers are welcome to read ahead.)
(1) In many cases, your listening will be invisible so don’t expect anyone to thank you. The more invisible it is, the better. Let your partner go the moment they’ve reached release. Don’t engage them in more conversation and don’t go back into the upset. The contribution of this kind of deep listening makes it well worth the effort. You can see I’m enthusiastic about it.