Good morning and happy beautiful Sunday! I hope you are enjoying a weekend full of love, light and peace. I mentioned in my last post, that since the pandemic started, and with recent tragedies helping renew our focus on social justice, writing has felt a bit more difficult. And I have wrestled with this idea of, “where is my voice?”. It’s not like I don’t have anything to say. But the words don’t seem to be as easily accessible. I’m balancing a sense of urgency to speak with what may be really important to say. So here we go. It’s time to get the blogging muscle exercising more again. And let’s see what we come up with.

And so I sit wrestling with topics, wondering where to begin. I remind myself that in speaking from love and truth, we cannot go wrong. And could that be a clue? Could that be part of the lesson. It is ok not to rush to speak or to write. It’s ok to pause and center ourselves in love and truth. And I think for many of us, the rush to respond has become heightened in the age of social media. Right? Someone we follow, whether they are on our perceived ‘side’ or not, drops a hot take. And within seconds, we see people getting blown out of the water. We seem to be simmering collectively in reacting mode. Many times steeped in anger. But instead of reacting, what if we took a moment to step back, pause and listen?

Ok, so there it is, I said it. What if we pause and listen? And well holy sh*$, how does that even work? Besides, I think I do listen and try to understand. I’m already good at this. Aren’t  I? After a quick consultation with my wife on the topic. She mentions that maybe I don’t always listen as well as I could. Which of course results in my switching gears. As I rise up in defense of myself, and my ability to listen…there it is. And in that moment, ahhh ok, I get it, point taken. Sometimes even when I think I am listening, I may inadvertently react. Making things about me. Or least blending myself into the discussion. And thus risk lessening the point she may have been trying to make.

So how can I listen better, without judgement. Without making it about me. And without making it about my tendency to fix a situation that maybe I’m not being asked to fix. I liken it to the start of the NFL season. There’s been a lot of hyperbole about how teams are choosing to express themselves. And even in peaceful protest, prior to the start of games, many people are ready to pounce and react. Many are apparently going to tune out, at least for the pregame. Feeling then if they do watch, they are watching in their own form of personal protest.

And isn’t that the point? This doesn’t have to be about us. It’s not about our comfort. It’s about these individuals, playing a game for entertainment. While putting their bodies and livelihoods on the line with every play for the sake of that idea of entertainment. And these players, as individuals or collectively, if they feel they have something to say, something to stand up for. It is well within their rights to say it. And not about my agreement with the premise or not – which I do happen to agree with wholeheartedly.

So how can I continue searching for ways to apply this to my personal life. How do I listen better? I don’t mean just listen in active conversation. Sitting in some semi-patience for the next turn to speak. Ready to make my point. And waiting to hopefully fix whatever it may be that we’re talking about in the moment. I mean trying to sit back, in patience and listen in total presence. Listening to hear each word, every point being made. Digesting the emotions behind the thoughts. Whether I agree, or not. Searching to understand, releasing the focus of me being understood.

For me it begins with relaxing our reflex for judgement. We seem to have developed this innate sense of not just right and wrong. But it’s become easier to operate from a hyper sense of ‘I’m right’, you’re wrong’. And in the example of social media, we see what feel like millisecond responses on why an idea or thought is just a downright bad take. And if there isn’t a strong point to be made in response, let’s just hurl an insult.

We all have a myriad of experiences. And of course those inform who we are. Sometimes we may need to remind ourselves, when someone we love is sharing, when another human is sharing their experience, it does not have to be about me. Otherwise we may see just an opportunity to shade in the lines of what someone is saying with our experiences. And in turn we may risk losing trust, make the other feel unsafe, and shut down the opportunity for any real connection. And in turn potentially damaging a relationship, at least in the short term. And very likely we’re passing on an opportunity to learn and grow.

So can we let go of our fears, at least in the moment. When we’re reacting, especially a hot immediate reaction, it can be based in fear, driven by our ego. If we can focus on releasing fear, we have an opportunity to be more open to the conversation. In turn then we can strive to be not just a better listener, but a better partner, friend and ally. And there are so many angles where fear is being hurled at us recently, honoring in the moment that the person speaking deserves to be heard makes a world of difference.

Once the other person has had a true opportunity to speak, now ask for opportunities to share. I’ve personally found this key in maintaining and building a deeper connection. Allowing a safe space for the person who is sharing with you. When they’ve had an opportunity to really dig into their thoughts, put it all on the table. Asking for the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas, can help provide a space for the other person to really be open to connecting to your input. And if they’re not looking for our input, that can be ok. Otherwise we risk the other person shutting down, and feeling like we are co-opting their thoughts and feelings.

Never expect less than the same for yourself. Like any healthy relationship, listening and connection should allow for the good ‘ol 2 way street. Of course, this isn’t about keeping a tally sheet. But you know that feeling, and we all have those relationships. Where consistently one person is in the role of giver, and the other person ends up being the taker. But in your true deep connection relationships, always expect for the same level of open listening and opportunity for sharing as you provide to others.

So there you have it. From not being sure what I’d write about, to my thoughts on for being a better listener. A better partner, friend, ally. Releasing judgement. Being open to the experiences of others. Trying to not make it about me. Letting go of the fear, and asking permission to share and give feedback. I’d love your thoughts on this and all of my posts. I am always available for discussion offline. Initial 30 minute coaching sessions are always free. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram. Have a beautiful rest of your Sunday and incredible week ahead. Sending you love, light and laughter ❤️🙏