She spoke so quickly and with such happiness in her voice, I could tell this really mattered to her. And, naturally, she expected it to mean as much to me too. When you love someone, it does.
My teen love's passion was palpable as she told the tale of the day's hilarious high-school adventure. And even though she was speaking fluent Teenagese, rapidly interjecting "like" and "dude" without a care for my poor old, grammatical nerves, I could understand it all, having had plenty of practice with the peep who's already flown the nest.
And I smiled, and nodded, and chuckled, and gave her the inquisitive hairy eyeball at just the right moments. After all, I'm her mum.
And all the while, I was silently sending out this mind-power message—I'm listening as fast as I can!
And this—Please hurry!
And some other thoughts about which I'm too shamefaced to write.
I faked it with my little love. I pretended I was really listening. She rattled off her sweet little short story, thinking that she had a captive (maybe even captivated) audience, that someone she loves and by whom she is loved was really listening, that her mum actually cared.
I, on the other hand, was a poser, an impostor, masquerading the guilt of being a lousy listener, just going through the bodily motions while visions of what befuddled me muddled my mind. In the time it took me to become mindful of myself and remove my mask, her tale had been told.
And I regretted it, deeply. It would have been better to politely interrupt, tell her that I wanted to listen to her story, but needed to clear my mind, that I would listen to her story later. At least that would have been honest, regardless of how selfish. My own hurried and harried thoughts prevailed, again.
I've realized over the years that my lousy listening comes from the inside out. I don't really listen to myself very well. And even when I think I am, it's often just the monkey mind or inner critic who speaks up the loudest, and simultaneously.
I tend to dismiss my own thoughts and emotions sometimes, going about my daily busyness, but mostly just going back to then or over to the next, instead of being here now. Don't we all? The wise woman who lives out loud within me seems to scarcely whisper at times.
And others sense, they just know when I'm being a lousy listener. And when I'm not really listening, they aren't really speaking. They don't say what they really feel because they know I'm not really listening. They give up talking because there's no exchange, of love.
With patient practice, the lousy listener in me has improved. When I've been able to listen to myself, with love, without judgment, I am able to really listen to others too, with an open mind and heart, with patience, compassion, and empathy.
Be willing to sit. Sometimes it takes a while for others to feel comfortable speaking openly with us. Just being with others, sitting in stillness with them can open up the shared space to allow for words to flow out.
Open up your heart. When our hearts open up with love, love for ourselves and love for others, because they are actually the same love, others can sense this. They will know that they are safe to speak through love.
Invite another to speak. Ask others if there's anything on their minds they'd like to say, or if there's anything weighing happily or heavily upon their hearts. Ask them to speak if they want to speak. Invite love too.
Say that you want to listen. Tell the person you really want to listen, that you want to help in any way you can, even if helping is simply the listening. Sometimes others need someone to listen. Be that someone.
Listen for words asking for help. Sometimes others want our help, asking for it openly, but at other times not asking. Offer help and wait for permission. When a person wants help, give what help you will with love.
Later on, I just sat beside my little love while she worked at her mounds of studies. And, after a while, I asked if she would listen to something that was on my mind, bothering me. And, of course she would, because she loves me.
So I came clean. I told her that I hadn't really been listening very well to her story, that a bunch of other thoughts were rolling and racing around in my head. I apologized. I'm sorry, Love. I made amends. I want to listen, now.
"You and Dad always do that," she flatly replied. And she packed up her piles and disappeared.
Cuss! Crap mum alert. Practice.
Ouch. Loving mum awakening.
But this ouch wasn't my pained ego, it was the hurting of my little love. It was her ouch that my repeated lousy listening had inflicted. Being a lousy listener hurts. But listening with love heals. And I know which one is a pattern I choose to let go and which one is a practice I choose to let be.
Later on, my little love reappeared with forgiveness just flooding from her heart. She said not a word on that, but simply retold her sweet little now long story, with all the embellishments that time often brings.
And I smiled, and nodded, and chuckled, and gave her the inquisitive hairy eyeball at just the right moments because I am her mum, after all, and a really loving listener who really listens, for reals, dude.
How about you? Do you practice really listening? In what ways do you listen in love?
Ears, mind, and heart wide open,
Photo Ohmega1982 via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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