Lessons from Listening
I talked vaguely to a co-worker about my blog in the presence of my supervisor. Out of the blue, my supervisor asked about my blog. I told her that I have been writing for a few months now. She continued to ask questions of interest and finally asked if she could read it. I thought I don’t know if I want you to read my blog? Then I quickly thought that’s a fear, a fear of judgment, you need to let her read it. So she read Leap of Faith. I was a bit nervous, as she read the post and I wondered what she was thinking? My boss only knows me as a co-worker and what little information I share with her about my life. After she read the piece she continued to ask questions. And I answered each question asked. What felt like a very vulnerable moment from the start, evolved into two women bonding as they were getting to know each other beyond work. We were two women relating to each other as we erased the walls, the lines, the layers that we learn to create and place on us and between us in life for survival. I started this blog to speak my truth. And I make it a point to speak often and encourage people to use their voices too. Silence is not an enemy, but can be and enemy if we allow it to be. Here are the valuable lessons I have learned from all my years of silence.
No matter how hard you try, you are not a closed book.
When I was a little girl I was quiet more often then not. I respected my elders, listened them and watched them. Kids learn everything by what they see. Overtime, the more adults that I met, the more I started to see things that didn’t seem right. Things that I didn’t understand. And no matter how hard people tried to cover what they felt, I could see that people weren’t happy and I wondered why it was and what they weren’t doing anything about it? Throughout my childhood I was very secretive and I felt I was closed book and I prided myself on that blind belief. Then one day I realized just how much my actions were speaking on behalf of me. That profound realization helped me to empathize with people and gain a deeper understanding of the people that crossed my path. When you pay attention you see life in greater detail.
When I studied the Meisner technique one of the first activities we did required us to look into the eyes of our partner and read their emotion. Anytime in my life that I have been in activities that require people to look into the eyes of another over a short amount of time people either fidget, divert their eyes or do a combination of both. We know that it is a sign of respect to look at someone when they talk to you. But where are you looking? Are you looking between their eyes? Or into their eyes? Over time doing those activities we each got good with eye contact and really good at reading emotions. While you don’t need to take an acting class to look into someones eyes, the lesson here is that when you allow yourself to literally see eye to eye with the person you are conversing with, you see more then you would if you were on your phone or not present in the conversation. When you pay attention you see life in greater detail.
Everyone wants to be heard.
As a kid my friends did most of the talking and I did more of the listening. Many people over the years have always opened up to me long before I became a glimpse of the woman I am now. Overtime I started to realized just how starved some people are to be heard. And how starved people are to connect with others. And as I got older I realized just how much I wanted to say and at times I see how starved I can be to be heard. Even strangers come up to me and tell me their life stories. I think what I just realized is that people want to connect with others even if it is for a passing moment with someone you many never see again.
You are not alone.
What I have learned from all the stories of love, unrequited love, success, failures, breakups, death, fears etc. is that everyone has the same amount of highs and lows in life. Everyone hurts. Everyone fears. Everyone wants to belong. Everyone feels alone. But what everyone fails to realize is that you are not alone. What connects us are our experiences and our emotions. We can only connect when we allow ourselves to let go of the barriers that we have learned to put up to survive.