Listen. People start to heal the moment they feel heard.
Years ago, a coach let me know I interrupted people when they talked. I remember feeling shocked, ashamed, & slightly defensive. I clutched tightly to the thought that I was a good listener. As I recall I interrupted her when she continued to share her experience of being with me. Caught by the truth of her words, I also knew immediately why I did this. Knowing “why” allowed me to hold some compassion for myself. Yet, knowing the “why” did not create the catalyst to alter this behavior. The embarrassment combined with an “I’ll show you!” (a fierce voice I’ve had inside of me all my life) supported me beginning to alter this behavior pattern. I immediately observed that this unhelpful habit appeared with almost everyone with whom I interacted. ACK!!
The shift to listening from quiet presence took place over time and involved many moments of admitting, “Oh, I just interrupted you. I’m so sorry. Please finish what you were saying.” A combination of having people actually listen to me (Oh, those brave, fabulous souls who modeled/model this behavior for me!!), brain dumping with written words into copious journals, feeling the unresolved emotions in my heart, landing in the wonderful world of deep breathing, sensing my pounding heart, the soft, unmoving tongue in my mouth, and meditating daily to connect with an incredibly quiet place inside (Wow, what is THIS?!?!?), helped me to have an expanded bandwidth for present, compassionate listening.
When thoughts pop like popcorn I know I don’t need to blurt them out of my mouth. And if I need to interrupt someone-which in certain situations you must–I usually say to the person, “Hold that thought. I need to use the restroom.” (which 9 times out of 10 I do because I hydrate all day long!) Or “I know I’m interrupting you. I have another commitment in 5 minutes. Can we continue our conversation this evening? I really want to hear everything else you have to say.”
Listening from a soulful, quiet presence continues to be a completely different experience from half hearing another’s words and your own internal words simultaneously.
You likely will discover an ability to listen beyond someone’s words, for what is not being said, for the invisible emotions swirling around in the air. You become a safe person for other people to say what they need to say. People you encounter can know they will be heard from your heart, from that sacred place of shared humanity. Much healing can take place in the pin-drop silence of rapt attention.