We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ~ Epicteus
I used to be a good listener. When I was younger, people would open and share very personal things with me. Then later, they would express surprise or even shock that they had shared so much. It was surprising to me too, but I sensed it happened because I truly listened, without judgement or distractions.
Now days, I’m busier, less patient and just as likely to talk as to listen. A career in sales has trained me to speak out, explain, answer objections, etc. While good skills, they’re often contrary to listening. My early sales success was related to my willingness to listen deeply, hear what people wanted, and then try to solve their problems, instead of simply pitching a product like many sales people do.
Children particularly, need to know that we care and want to hear what they have to say. By listening, we teach them what they say matters and has value. For more tips on listening, children and parenting, read this excellent post by Rachel Macy Stafford. I admire her courage and wisdom. She also encourages us to let go of perfectionism, shoulds and other distractions, to focus on what really matters.
I’ve had several reminders lately to listen more and talk less. This includes listening not only to others, but to my inner wisdom that I sometimes ignore or bury in busyness and distraction. It’s important to take time to listen to our inner voices; both the wise loving ones as well as the hurt fearful ones.
Take time to listen, accept and nurture all of you as expressed by the various inner voices. By listening to our inner critic, we find ways to understand, accept and integrate all the aspects of ourselves. Our inner critic may simply need to be heard or may have a deeper message. Similarly, the connection to our soul grows in the quiet of listening and stillness. This is why we meditate and spend time in quiet solitude, without the distractions of daily life. Nature is one of the best ways to soothe my soul. Here’s a related post about listening to the Call of Nature.