And to what are we listening?
When we talk with each other, are we planning what we will say next while the other is speaking? Are we judging or evaluating what the other is saying?
Or — are we opening our hearts to truly enter the other person’s territory?
There are times to put the other first, and listening is one of those times.
Let’s talk about projection. Unconsciously we may be projecting our own thoughts, fears and beliefs onto the other.
In the book Contentment by Drs. Robert Johnson and Jerry Ruhl, Jungian Psychologists, they define some characteristics of projection.
Projection is the error of attaching an aspect of our inner life onto someone or something outside us.
When we project, we are unconscious of the hurts, unhealed losses, and disappointments within us. Thus we project them onto others.
When projection is at work our responses are typically:
3. Out of proportion to the reality of the situation.
So it is very helpful to watch for these behaviors, and become aware of our feelings, as well as our words, while we are speaking and interacting with others.
What is going on within us as we talk? Are we aware of our motivations? What are we trying to communicate?
Can we get honest with ourselves first, and then share appropriately?
What is our body language? Are we flushed? What might our face look like to the other? How intense are we?
What is our motive? Do we really want to connect, or are we trying to change the other? To cause them to see our side of the issue? Or to force, shame or guilt them into doing what we want?
Are we willing to observe our own reactivity?
If we have not worked through our fears and inner wounds by taking responsibility for our feelings and appropriately, lovingly, gently integrating them, we will project them on the other.
Unhealed wounds are very alive within us, but through denial we are unconscious of these forces that really run the show.
Our inner hurts speak so loudly that we cannot really hear someone else.
These wounds do need attending to. We need to become our own physician first, before we try to help anyone else. As Jesus said, “Remove the log from your own eye before you try to remove the speck from another’s eye.”
So the first task of love is to first listen….to ourselves…and really be present to the unresolved grief within us.
Then we can give our great gift of listening to another.
Mark Nepo, in his book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, tells us, “Whatever difficulty you face, there are time-tried ways you can listen your way through. Because listening is the doorway to everything that matters.”
A meditation practice is one way we can learn to listen. We learn ways of quieting the outer mind so that we hear deeply what is going on within us, while at the same time keeping what is true before us.
Learning to accept what is, and know it is leading us to our next step and the next. All life is headed toward healing, wholeness, and the light.
A journaling practice helps us listen to the many and often contentious voices within us. We can also listen to the other through dialogue.
Listening to the cries of the child within us (for there is always some level of this child inside us that wants to be heard). As we open to the child we might hold this child, as we listen to her/him. No reprimands, no criticism, just heart-felt openness.
A good therapist can help us on this healing journey.
As we do this inner work, we will develop the spaciousness to listen to others.
As Philo of Alexander said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
Can we be kind? To others as well as ourselves?
Listen to what we are saying! Will this thought lead to more suffering? Or will this thought relieve suffering?
Which will it be? Is this thought derogatory? Self depreciating? If so, it leads to suffering. Is that what we really want?
What is our highest aspiration? Why are we here on this earth? What is our soul truly yearning for?
Is it love? We all have the ability to give love. We can do this whether we are feeling particularly loving or not. There are many, many aspects to love.
My husband and I learned early on in our marriage counseling that love is a decision. It is something we choose, and not something we have to be in the mood for.
Let’s choose the thought or action that will relieve suffering. For this will express more truth and beauty in the world.
How much do we care? How helpful do we want to be?
It is up to us. No one can do it for us.
This great task calls us into something higher and more beautiful, for we are much more than we can even imagine. We are the very energy of God, the energy of love.
True love is listening, and then taking appropriate action.
Real love blesses — and it relieves suffering.
In mindfulness, Rev. Billie