We live in a fast-paced world. New ways of communication and personal interaction can hurt our natural ability to interact and listen to ourselves and others with our hearts instead of only our ears and minds.
Listening with your heart simply means giving to something your full attention (time and space), allowing the message to be expressed and giving the opportunity for it to be acknowledged, heard and understood.
Easier said than done, right?
Just think back on the last time you had a conversation with someone.
Did you listen openly with full attention and focus? Were you fully present?
Were you interested in the message or were you automatically figuring out what you are going to say? Did you hardly wait for a time when you can begin to talk so that you can dispense advice?
When we only listen with our minds and ears, we start to prepare answers and solutions to whatever problems we appear to hear from our conversation partner even before he/she stopped talking.
Our desire to fix others (even if it comes from the good intention) or the basic need of our ego to be more important than others, usually supersede our natural ability to connect emphatically with all living beings.
We need to recognize that and start changing with love.
I would like to share with you some insights from my own life experience.
Always listen to yourself first
“To know how to choose a path with heart is to learn how to follow intuitive feeling. Logic can tell you superficially where a path might lead to, but it cannot judge whether your heart will be in it.” ~ Jean Shinoda Bolen
Sometimes we might forget that the most important conversation we need to have is the one with ourselves. We need to give ourselves the time and space to be able to clearly see and understand everything that is happening internally.
All answers that originate from the heart come through intuition, not through reasoning or logical assumptions. So don’t try to rationalize your thoughts.
Instead, set some time aside for honest conversation with yourself and listen to your feelings.
Be empathetic towards needs and issues that your heart is pointing to.
If you can’t show empathy and support for yourself first, chances are you will not be able to offer empathy and support to anyone else.
Being empathetic does not mean that you drown in your negativity, if that is what you feel at that moment. It simply means that you notice what your heart is trying to communicate to you.
Your heart will never communicate something that is not in your best interest.
Once you hear or see, understand and finally accept the message, then you can decide to act on it. Or decide not to act on it, the choice will always be yours, as your heart will never force you into any direction…
“…And if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last…” ~ Led Zeppelin. Stairway to Heaven
Don’t be judgmental while listening to others
“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
Everyone has a story. There is a saying I always find appropriate when I think about judging others – “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” ~ Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.
You really don’t know what the other person went through in their life.
You have no idea about choices they had to make, sacrifices that were needed, and love that was perhaps withhold which led to people behaving like they do today.
You don’t know the motives and you don’t have the entire picture. You can’t know the feelings they felt and beliefs they created from all their life experiences.
And if you don’t have all the details, then how can you judge?
The truth is you can’t.
For this very same reason, you should not worry about others judging you.
The whole point of judging makes no sense because we all lack information and experience that others had.
But judgments are what our ego’s use to make us feel better about ourselves, by making the other person wrong which decreases its worthiness.
Or so does the ego reason.
Don’t buy into other people’s opinions and judgments. Remember, an opinion without 3.14 is only onion.
In reality, there is only one thing that you always need to follow if you want to be happy, and that is hints and clues that your heart is giving you.
Try to feel what is really being communicated
Our world is one polluted with fancy words and long phrases. We hide the real meaning of what we really want to convey behind complex and complicated sentences, sometimes intentionally and sometimes without even realizing it because of our ego’s interest in problems and stories.
Always be in touch with the body language of the person who is communicating to you.
Body language should always match the message.
If it doesn’t, the real message is the one that you are picking up from the body language.
Don’t be so quick to offer advice or a solution
“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.” ~ Stephen Fry
Most of the time the person confiding in you is not really looking for advice.
Sometimes they just need some space to help them arrange themselves internally.
Or they need to feel some approval and acceptance from a friend. Perhaps they just want to express themselves to someone they trust and who they know will not judge them.
In any case, you don’t need to immediately go around fixing things that are perhaps not even broken. Or fixing them is not your responsibility in the first place.
Just be there for them with your time and space, lovingly.
That is what listening with your heart really is.
Be aware that there are also people who routinely use all their life issues as a way to give themselves ego boost or seemingly increase their importance (also called “look at me look at me” syndrome).
Don’t fall for that.
Accept people as they are
We as individuals are not perfect. Nobody is perfect in every single thing.
There is no such thing as perfection in this world. And that is exactly what is perfectly set up in this world, for everyone.
Read about the paradox of achieving and sustaining perfection in my blog post Why Do I Hate My Life – The Answer Might Surprise You!
Most of us intuitively know there is no such thing as “perfection” as long as we have to deal with egos. But that doesn’t mean we should not strive to improve our life or lives of others.
We simply decide to do what we can in order to become a better person than we were the day before.
That is all it takes.
Sometimes we manage to do that, sometimes it may feel like we are going a step backwards.
Try not to put your standards way up in the skies. Allow the imperfection and you might be surprised with what could show up as a result.
Listening with your heart is the most precious gift you can give to someone. And yourself for that matter.
In the beginning of my adult life I was not interested in listening with my heart.
It was not until I started to explore and realize what is really (unconditional) love that I started to practice listening with my heart.
I found a technique that helped me actually experience this, and now I am recommending it to anyone interested in personal growth through unconditional Love.
Listening with your heart is the only way to have fulfilling and meaningful relationship, first with yourself and then of course with everyone else.
I hope you will spread the understanding of this in your own environment, and who knows, perhaps we can become a society of compassionate listeners instead of just empty talkers. Imagine that world.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate you, just as you are.
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net