Listening

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you survive or did you have to opt for a witness protection program? I survived. In fact, it was one of our better gatherings. I have to credit that with lots of teamwork and the gift of listening.

Earlier in the day, Brian and I attended a meeting where the topic was “listening and learning”. It isn’t a secret that when my spouse sought a spiritual solution for his drinking, I, too, found a place to ease my disease of crazy thinking. Yesterday, a friend referred to it as a “sanity stop”. I couldn’t agree more. Anyway, the discussion was all about the art of listening and how much you can learn about an individual if you are fully present. It was the ideal topic for, what can be, a stressful holiday.

I can be guilty of “listening” in an effort to prepare my response. Especially in the event that the topic touches a nerve. It’s human nature. Truly hearing another individual is the rawest form of intimacy. Everyone simply wants to be heard.

It took me a long time to realize that was my issue. I thought the louder my voice was, then someone would hear me. Being in a relationship where active alcoholism took center stage, I felt invisible. No one was listening to the pain I was in, so I raged. Almost eighteen years later, I am still in the process of learning to simply be quiet and give others the right to express themselves.

I know the holidays can be stressful. Emotions are high. People can be assholes. You know the drill, but, this can all be alleviated by taking these nuggets with you when you are attending functions with other humans. First, use the acronym WAIT (Why Am I Talking?). Sometimes I don’t need to respond. Remembering that listening is a form of communication. Second, everyone has the right to their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. It is amazing what I learn if I truly use those two things attached to the side of my head. Be quiet. Be respectful to the person speaking to you. Most of all, listen to learn instead of listening to respond.

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