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
16 thoughts on “Words To Live By #24: Truly Listen”
I love these two words! #GlobalBlogging
This is so true. I went on a constructive listening course a long time ago and being heard, and knowing you’re being heard, is really impactful.
Yes-this is another fab one, but just so so important. There used to be an elderly man across the road from me, who would always want to talk. We’d only just moved to the area, and I had a tiny baby, and found his requests for me to take his bins out/do his shopping/visit him because I would have ‘nothing else to do’ on maternity leave, quite annoying. I feel terrible now, that I didn’t try harder, as it’s usually my nature to listen really carefully to what people are saying. Having had times when I’d been dismissed by GPs, friends, colleagues, and my concerns for my mental health quashed, I always try really hard to really listen to people. And like you say, Chester Bennington is a sad example of something that might possibly have been avoided.
What a great and timely post, Alana. Taking the time to look someone in the eye and take in what they are willing to share is a gift on both ends of the relationship. In this chaotic and often unfriendly world, we need this advice more than anything. Thank you for this post. #BigPinkLink
Lisa Pomerantz recently posted…When your Therapy Dog needs Therapy
This is definitely something that I need to work on .. Especially with my children, sometimes I think I am so busy that I just don’t have time, but I should stop and make time! A great reminder, thank you! #globalblogging
You are so right. We all need to listen properly. I am going to try and be a better listener to people. I hote that some people feel there is no way out.
Ali Duke recently posted…Sensse Anti-Ageing Cleansing Brush Review
I’d not heard the news story but wow to take a life and leave 6 children behind when everything seemed ok from the outside. It goes to show that not all is what it’s seems. I will endeavour to follow your advice this week and truly listen to people I encounter. I hope in my sort of daily solitude of summer that I come across some!! Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky
Karen | TwoTinyHands recently posted…Bloggers Block #FamilyFunLinky
always great advice and food for thought. Thanks for linking up to #globalblogging
kristin mccarthy recently posted…I Don’t Have a Nanny, But Help is Never in Short Supply
Stopping to truly listen to someone is really hard to do at times but makes such a difference. Always good to be reminded of how important it is to make that time. #familyfunlinky
You are so right about this – our full attention is the most valuable thing we can give to someone.
I agree with all you say here! Sometimes i feel guilty because I can be so distracted with something that I only half listen and it is terrible. I did a listening skills course a couple of years back and wow what an eye opener! It has made me become a better listener and although believe me I am not perfect I do take the time to listen as much as possible. I also realised how much some people I call friends really don’t listen to me, they turn the conversation back to themselves and their problems, it was quite surprising. When i used to nurse in elderly peoples homes they would always want a chat, it was so important to give them that time, it is our gift to them, but we also get so much from listening to the elderly. Great post! #mg
Your post made me think. I know an old lady too, who lives alone and who loves to talk. Somedays, like you, I find myself looking for ways to get out of those long conversations. But maybe she really needs to talk to someone. We never really know what is going on in people’s minds. This is a great reminder to stop and listen with one’s complete undivided attention. Thank you.
Obsessivemom recently posted…Holding onto childhood traditions #MondayMusings
This is such an important post and something I’m so passionate about. I spent 6 years as a Samaritan. The ability to listen without judging and without immediately giving advice is a real skill. We all want to solve the problems of our loved ones, but it’s not possible. And more often than not, all people need is a genuine listening ear. Not someone to talk back or respond, but someone to listen X #MG
Just last week I wrote a post about listening too – mostly a reminder to myself. Thanks for this.
Hey Alana, thank you for this post. It is so important that we all take a deep breath and just be there for those around us, for ourselves, and for each other. Our gadgetry and need to see what is going on are hurting all communications. This is a wonderful and timely post for me, as I try my smile theory in the world. Thanks so much! #mg
Lisa Pomerantz recently posted…The chaos of the smile theory
So true that we should listen to one another and get distracted by oooh what’s that shiny thing?! #mg
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