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One of the things you can do to help others in this global pandemic is listening to them. This is active listening. You’re being active in the way you listen, not passive. You take the time to hear what their hearts are saying. That’s what people need right now. They want you to love and accept them as they are.
When you make life about others, you give people a gift more priceless than all the gold in Fort Knox. They feel they mean something — that their lives have a purpose. These aren’t original thoughts, but sometimes we need reminding of the things we know. We can feel helpless to make a dent in this global pandemic. We can. Love one person. Help one person. Show you care to one person. You will feel you are making a difference. It won’t be beyond your ability. It’s an achievable goal. You will have caused a positive change in that person’s life. Perhaps, in response to your listening that person will choose to not give up on life. That’s no small potatoes when you think about it.
I came across this quote from an Indian philosopher. “So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
That thought got me thinking about how there have been times I’ve listened with one ear. My mind was somewhere else. I was thinking about something on my to-do list, how i was hungry or wondered when the person would get to the point. We all have those moments when we are far from our best at listening. How many of us have heard a person only in the way that lines up with our way of thinking? If it doesn’t we tune out. If we disagree with the person, we can’t wait to give our opinion.
How many of you have had someone steamroll over an idea you had? That individual told you how your concept is flawed without mentioning anything positive about it. I’ve had this happen to me. I admit I’ve done it to others. What I’ve sought to do is learn from the times I’ve been an awful listener.
We all have those bad days when Murphy’s law gets the better of us. We’ve had it with the whining from our children. We’ve reached the limit of stress from our bosses. There are too many bills and not enough money to pay them all. Your spouse has squeezed the toothpaste from the middle one too many times. You can’t have a hot shower because you didn’t get the notice that the public works department was turning off the water that morning. You make a hot cup of coffee to relax, only to have it spill all over your new work outfit. You’re caught in traffic for over an hour and a half. You arrive over an hour and a half late for work. Your boss motions with a stern face for you to come into the office. All the employees looks at you like you are being summoned to the principal’s office. You know the day will only go downhill.
You could be forgiven for being a terrible listener that day.
Often, listening is silent. There are times Karen just wants to be held. Love can have a quiet language.
Many conflicts could be resolved if people spoke less and listened more.
While we go through CoVid we will have times when the stress of all the restrictions gets to us. There is only so much any person can stand. This is when I need to take time out for myself to listen to some music, read or unwind with a coffee and our kitty, Katherine. She teaches me to be a better listener. When I pet her and tell her how much I love her, she responds by extending one of her back paws. She gives be a double paw pin. She gives me kitty kisses with her dainty little tongue. Kitty kisses are a powerful healing medicine when I’m feeling down. I tell Katherine I know she must give them out sparingly because they are potent. She says to me in doing these things that she loves me.
Think of the impact you could have on someone’s life who you know by listening to that person. Reflect upon those times CoVid has stressed you out. Give out the love you would hope to receive.
None of these ideas about active listening will change the world, but it could change someone else’s. If that doesn’t work, you can get lessons from Katherine. I’m thankful mine are free.
Dr. Kevin James Osborne B.A., B.Th., M.A., M.Div., , Psy.D. Ph.D. and Th.D Candidate, O.P.C., D.-C.P.C., D.A.B.T.E, C.M.H.C. is Dean of Psychology and President of Student Affairs at St. James the Elder University. Karen Osborne B.A., D.Sc. in Psychology (honoris causa) C.M.H.C. is the Registrar of St. James the Elder University.