This is my domain of comfort and expertise -- our heartscape. Sometimes it's lush and thick with life. Other times it's barren or bruised from a difficult season. I have always had a great navigational sense in this inner world. I know where to find sources of Light and Water. I know where the shade is, and where the berries grow. I can identify poisons and dangers... and convert mysteries into something useful. This kind of insight and guidance is an unlearned skill I recognized as a child, and have heeded and developed throughout my life. I am, only recently, coming into full ownership of it. I expect you will experience a difference in my communications going forward, because a barrier has lifted. I understand my Role and my Reasons more fully now, than I have before. Please consider the rest of this post the first of many insights about our Inner Terrain.
"Mom/Dad, look at me!"
I don't believe we are intended to grow out of this very basic, very human need to be seen and heard. Witnessed. Social media is an example of our continued longing to share and to show. To see and to know.
It is nice to self-express. But have you noticed how flat it can feel when whatever you've shared isn't really received by someone else? You risk sharing something of importance to you, and it quickly becomes fodder for the next quickly passing moment. There's no pause. There's no resting with the thought or feeling that just got expressed. Usually, there's just a hurried reply to keep the conversational ball bouncing. Lots of times that quick, staccato-pace of chatter is all that's needed.
But there are far too many other times that an important happening gets no sunlight of acknowledgement. Because most of us were never taught how to listen deeply and with a full and gathered presence, we rarely exchange that luxuriant gift with others. And that's a true, but easily treatable, pity.
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." (Dr. Maya Angelou)
And not one that you have to pay for. Witnessing and giving full presence is a loving act we all can learn and give to those we are close to. But we treat our emotional well-being like a dirty garment... sending offsite to a professional who, for a fee, will sanitize and starch the dirt and wrinkles that come from living.
A therapeutic professional is a great help for certain traumas, but a lot of our daily hurts and hopes could be wonderfully handled if a few more of us simply learned to listen more deeply and with full presence.
One great resource to help with that is an essay written by Brenda Ueland, "The Art of Listening." She says, "When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand." I hope you'll read all of her essay. Her words help us to not only understand how to be better listeners for others. Her words also help us understand our own desire for what I call conversational moreness.
how to create Conversational Moreness.
There are lightening bugs. And there is lightening.
When two people come together for any purpose, the *potential* between them is mountain-moving. But what usually takes place is more along the spatial lines of an ant-hill. We settle
for a teeny-tiny fraction of what's available to us at every encounter we have with one another!
Below are some starting points for your Deep Listener and Full Presencer.
Once it's clear that you are in a conversation of greater importance -- usually distinguished
by higher levels of risk, exposure and vulnerability than in casual or surfacey conversations --
do the following 6 things. Even practicing just one or two would be a great start:
- Ignore all screens -- this includes TVs, laptops, iPads and phones.
- Face, and look at, the person speaking.
- Receive. Each. Word. They. Say.
- Let this be about them. Hold your own story for another time.
- Feel into what they are saying. Imagine being them.
(This empathic step grows your perspective and your personhood.)
- Ask questions that help them explore and expand what they are sharing.
Like: "Can you say more about that? What else wants to be said? Anything else?"
The repeating question in #6 does WONDERS in helping another person
learn more from the very thing they wanted to tell you about.
Try this with a trusted friend or partner. Incubate ideas. Get unstuck.
Let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Give the world the gift of felt intimacy.
Create conversational moreness.
Help better listeners multiply.
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