I don’t know about you, but lately I have felt the weight of the collective grief that we are all experiencing. This year has been one like no other and we have all experienced loss of our “norm”; loss of common ways to cope and to connect.
As humans, we are wired for connection and without it, we cannot thrive. Our nervous and immune systems get a boost from connection with others and the in the absence of connection, we tend toward stress response. This lowers immune response and has effects on basically every function including thinking, digesting, and sleeping.
To help combat this, we can give one of the most valuable gifts which is to listen. The connection created when we feel seen and heard is powerful enough to calm the nervous system and to even lead to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that increases trust and has a positive impact on mood and emotions.
One of the problems we may run in to is that we have been taught how to speak up, but not how to deeply listen. And just as with other skills, we must start with ourselves first. This means getting out of our heads and going deeper. It is the practice of listening to our bodies and our own intuition and then taking care of the needs that we find from these deeper levels of knowing.
Once we have gone deeper into ourselves and honored our own needs, we have cleared the space to be able to better listen to others. We can feel calm enough in ourselves to be able to hold the space for others. The issue is that from our ego-driven minds (and our lack of training in listening), we often have an agenda running in our minds about what we are going to ask or say next and how we can tell them our idea when someone else is speaking,
This version of “listening” isn’t helping the other person feel seen or heard. And it is not allowing the listener to be able to really engage in conversation and learn about the other person. So, the connection is missed.
While listening, take a few deep breaths, be present, and open to feeling what the other person is feeling. If we can really tune in, not only to the words the other person is saying, but the emotions they are feeling and the experience they are having, we can deeply listen and connect in a much more profound way.
In the wake of functioning in a more isolated way, one of the things that we may all be craving right now is to feel heard. Simply having the outlet of processing our experience with someone who is listening can foster healing.
The connection that comes out of deep listening for both parties is invaluable. This week, I invite you to tune in and listen to learn rather than to respond. This could be one of the most valuable gifts you could give someone. I will be practicing right along with you.
Chat again soon,