If you read my last post, you know that I think listening is so powerful that it deserves TWO weekly practices.
In truth, I think it deserves a whole lot more than that, but in effort to keep you listening (ba-dum-TSH ), I’ve limited myself it to just these two (so stay with me!).
Listening, believe it or not, extends far beyond our aural listening capabilities.
While listening with our ears is what most of us think about when we talk about listening (and, as we covered last week, that’s vitally important too), there is a much more dynamic form of listening that you might consider a function mindfulness.
This kind of holistic listening requires you to take in your surroundings, your experiences, your emotions, and your relationships without judging them — and without immediately trying to fix them.
This type of listening means that we take the time to absorb our experiences, and take longer than usual to respond. It means holding off on your response, in fact, until you’re super uncomfortable and itching to do something — it’s all about the listening.
If you don’t think this sounds difficult, well, then you’re probably not listening. Ba-dum-TSH (ok, I’ll stop now).
Neglecting the Power of Silence
Because we live in an incredibly loud world, our striatum (which is the habit-forming center of our brains) gets swept up in potentially detrimental patterns. Amid all this noise, we neglect to give our brain the opportunity and the silence it needs to observe what is happening around us in real time.
We fall into these patterns because it’s how our brains are wired.
We are programmed to constantly compare ourselves to others, and to invest ourselves in checking off the next box. We surrender to these innate needs almost automatically, because our programming erroneously tells us that we must do so to be relevant, productive, and successful.
And everyone and everything around us reinforces this feeling. Our wallets, our friends, and our families are all pushing us to do.
But as we surrender to these seemingly positive impulses, we paradoxically lose sight of our purpose.
All because we stopped listening.
The root of the problem is that many of us are constant activators. (If you don’t know what that means, it’s because you haven’t taken our life balance assessment! Don’t worry, it’s free and takes about 2 minutes to complete. Stop, drop, and do it! — after you read this email, of course…)
As activators, we live to achieve, to check boxes, and to accomplish things. Sometimes, what we’re doing is in line with our purpose. But sometimes — maybe most of the time — it’s not.
A Moment of Opportunity
As you’re probably experiencing, this time of lock-down and quarantine can be quite unsettling for those of us that are activators and used to constantly doing and checking off those boxes.
This moment of quiet has become deafening.
That’s because most of us see stillness as laziness. Quietness as meekness. Silence as having nothing to say.
If you fall into that category, you should feel no shame.
Society has served us that kool-aid since that red-dye number three drink was a “thing”. We’ve been trained over the course of our schooling and careers that doing more is a source of personal pride.
What we and our ruby lips fail to recognize, however, is that we have so much potential in that silence. In fact, we NEED that silence so that we have room to listen. We need it so that we can consciously take our next steps.
The juicy truth is that this time of uncertainty is prime for just the sort of holistic, deep listening that we’ve been missing the most.
When we can clear our mind of all the noise and preconceived notions, we can unleash our true potential. In doing so, we will give ourselves the opportunity to truly grow, bloom, and transform. All because we will be less focused on acting and doing, and, instead, we will be tuning into the silence — and listening.
Now I’m not advocating for you to become a full-time monk, and spend every waking hour of your life in stillness. But, when you embrace the silence and the power of this deep, holistic listening, you will increase your potential and, perhaps, transform your life.
Remember. You are full of potential, if only you listen.