Each week we change the words/quote/saying that we are displaying on the noticeboard in our kitchen; these are the words we try to live by individually and as a family that week. Some weeks may focus on lifting our mood, others may be about motivation or attitude to life; something that speaks to us on some level and that we can directly apply to our lives. Changing the words each week stops them from becoming just another thing you walk past without really seeing, it keeps things fresh and stops them losing their power. This series is where I share those words with you in the hope they may help you and your family too. If you a new to the series and want to learn more, you can read the first post here, or check out the Words To Live By tab in the top menu.
The news of Chester Bennington’s suicide last week hit me hard. Not just because Linkin Park have been one of my all time favourite bands for over a decade, or because a true talent has been taken from this world, but because of his 6 children. I can’t get them out of my mind. I don’t pretend to know anything about the true circumstances of his death or what he was going through at the time, but he must have been in a truly dark place to feel like the only way out was to leave 6 poor kids without a father. To the outside world he looked happy, he had plans for later that day, the band was about to start touring again, he had it all. But it just goes to show, we don’t ever know what is going on inside someones own mind, the demons they are battling with.
I don’t normally like to comment on these news stories publicly, but I wanted to explain what prompted this week’s words to live by and why they are so important.
Think back over the last week. How many times have you truly listened to someone? You may have heard their words and responded, but did you truly listen? Did you give that person your undivided attention, or were you busy responding to emails, making tea, checking social media or mentally preparing a shopping list or what you were going to say in response at the same time? Be honest with yourself. I have been and quite frankly the reality of it shocked me.
I mentioned in my last Words To Live By post (Focus On One Thing At A Time) how in today’s world we have so many things fighting for our attention that we are in a constant state of multitasking and find it hard to focus on one thing. The same applies to listening.
When someone speaks to us, whether it’s a family member, a friend, a colleague or a complete stranger, they deserve our full attention. What they are talking about may seem trivial, but perhaps they are making lighthearted conversation as an attempt to cheer themselves up. Maybe it’s not really about the words being said, but the need to feel connected with another human being for a few short minutes. You can’t feel that connection when the other person is busy doing something else at the same time.
I know when my son comes to me with a problem or something he is upset about, I’ve realised I’m spending most of the conversation thinking of a way to fix the situation; to make it right somehow. But that’s not truly listening. He doesn’t need me to fix his problems, he just needs me to listen and really hear him. To let him talk it through till he finds his own solution or just feels better for having got it off his chest.
There’s an elderly gentleman who lives near to me who always has to stop and talk to whoever he is passing. Sometimes, when I’m in a hurry or I’ve got L in the pushchair and am trying to hold on to two dogs eager to get walking I find myself mentally trying to figure a way out of the conversation. But I need to realise that he is probably lonely. He’s a carer to his wife who is pretty much housebound, he’s always jovial and upbeat, but that’s a lot to take on and it must be incredibly hard. The least I can do is listen to him.
This applies to anyone and everyone we meet.
So please, this week, make an extra effort to really listen, to give people your full attention even for a few short minutes, let them feel heard and valued. You never really know what is going on under the surface or what a difference just a few minutes of your time could make in their day.
Equally, if you’re the one who is struggling, please reach out to someone. Let people in. It may seem scary at first, but it will help in the long run.
I know I usually fill these posts with quotes but I wanted to leave this one here today. Instead I have put them all into another post called 27 Inspiring Quotes About Truly Listening if you want to check them out.
If this post resonated with you in any way, please give it a share and let’s all start listening x