Merriam Webster defines “Listen” as “to pay attention to someone or something in order to hear what is being said.” Webster goes on to add “to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, true.”
Having someone listen to us – truly listen – is a gift. We can finish expressing our thought without fear of interruption or judgment. We feel worthy, supported, valued. Interruptions can change the subject altogether by obscuring its message, diverting it from our original intent. Judgment leaves us feeling diminished, devalued, sidetracking us into a self-preservation separating us from our listener.
Mark Nepo said “Listening is the doorway to everything that matters.”
Listening welcomes understanding; it right-sizes our egos, broadens our perspective and balances other points of view. Listening helps us keep our perspective when we start sliding toward the tunnel vision of self-centeredness.
Nepo’s doorway is a gift we give each other.
It’s also a gift we give ourselves. Our bodies, emotions and feelings are communicating with us all the time, telling us if our relationship, career, or environment is healthy for us. Our headaches, sleeplessness, tight shoulders and queasy stomach can be a scream or a whisper telling us our wellness is at stake.
Listening is a skill we develop through intended awareness and practice. Hearing each other and ourselves connects us with what matters. And we all matter.