Each New Year brings up the infamous social network question, “what is your word of the year?”. We brazenly put forth a single word to define our entire annual focus and then soon forget it. This year I tried to ponder the question with a degree of reflection and I choose the word “listen”. Listening is fast becoming a lost art. For those of us that consider ourselves healers the power of listening should not be taken lightly. Listening heals.
It is a shared principle among a variety of healers that we do not heal but help an individual’s body to heal itself. We don’t attempt to “cure” but to promote wellness. The people who seek us out often have chronic issues that have not been managed completely to their satisfaction. They have sought help from countless sources to be told their issues are related to anxiety, stress, depression and then given some pills to fix the problem. They have been told, but not listened to. It is your listening that heals.
The first step to helping someone is to truly hear them. Listening does not involve hearing what they say while simultaneously formulating what advice you are going to give to fix them. It involves being present and really hearing their concerns. Let them speak, expressing all their frustration and fears. The longer you sit quietly and focus on them the more you will learn. Watch their body language, pay attention to their priorities and most especially find out what it is they need. They may not even be ready to “be fixed”. They just want someone, anyone, to hear them and understand. Once you truly have an idea of what they need you can meet them wherever they are in their wellness journey. They may not be ready for that makeover of diet and lifestyle you were sure would be a game changer for them. You may learn that baby steps are needed and by listening you just accomplished the first step. Listening heals.
It may seem like this is pretty basic stuff. Of course you should listen, everyone knows that. But are you sure you are really listening? I find the older I get the harder it is to listen without jumping in with my sage advice. I am old, experienced and have been through a lot of troubles. You got a problem, I got a solution. I have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. I also find my “sage advice” goes unheeded and the same person comes back again, and again, never having followed one bit of the advice given. What was I missing? The person may have just wanted to be heard. I didn’t have the patience the first time to find out what they really wanted and needed before jumping in with advice. It wasn’t them, it was me. Listening heals.
There is nothing more powerful than being heard. Acknowledging and validating another person’s pain is incredibly healing all on its own. In today’s world of multiple distractions and information overload there is very little meaningful conversation. It seems like every problem demands a quick solution. Take a moment to clear your thoughts and focus on what someone is sharing with you. Make eye contact, nod, ask for clarification as needed and when appropriate repeat what you thought you heard them say. It can make all the difference in the world to your relationships both personal and professional. Everybody wants to be heard, but so few are listening. Be the one that listens because – listening heals.