I have found that one of the hardest things for me to do is listen. Listen to myself. Listen to others. I hear loads of things, but listening requires full attention, and being a wife and mother to 2 special needs children, my ear is rarely focused in one spot. I am constantly multi-tasking, as all mothers do, and sometimes get bitterly jealous of men who can be simply solely focused on one task. It’s not fair, but true.
We are no longer living in a simple family community world. The TV, internet, and easy air travel give us so many more options that the number of decisions and opinions flooding us is overwhelming. Because we have so many more possibilities, we feel that we need to have more direction, more purpose, and more meaning to our lives. We want adventure and peace at the same time because it’s available and the marketing experts are getting very good at their jobs of influencing our society’s opinions of what life “should” be like. Most of our prejudices and values are absorbed from our culture. Why are we listening to them? Why do we doubt our own thoughts? Why do we follow?
Honestly, because I’m tired and it’s easier to follow. Listening to myself takes a lot of energy when I have to be the one to then do the action, follow through, and be responsible. And, listening to our culture helps to find jobs and friends within my community. So is there a fine balance between listening to our culture and my own thoughts? This is my struggle and I know it’s a hard burden many moms like me face each day.
The consequences if we don’t face it well is that depression sets in, so that who we are listening to becomes a life or death situation each day. We know main-stream society doesn’t fit our special needs life, but we doubt ourselves and worry about our children and marriages constantly. Can a depressed mom listen and trust herself?
Ariel and Shya Kane say in their book Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work, that if you pay attention, you will see that there are many times when you have an internal commentary on what is being said rather than just listening. I call this “the Shoulds”. My soul is telling me what is best for myself, and while I’m listening to it, my brain is rapidly talking over and above of what I should be doing, so I stop listening to heart.
This just isn’t working. When listening to others, you need to be in the moment, hearing their words for what they are, not agreeing or disagreeing with them, just taking in their point of view. Same rules apply for listening to yourself. UGH! Can this get any harder? I have a hard time being able brush my teeth or to sleep through the night, let alone find the quite time to listen to my own thoughts and feelings. But it’s necessary. And I know that now. Learning to listen the hard way isn’t fun.
We all have a child in us who wants to be right and wants things our way, stubbornly not listening. Even if you are correct about another being wrong, something alive in you dies. Listening means we need to observe without judgment or comparison. Feel your feelings, listen to your bodies for desires and health, be in the moment for others and step into their side. The more you are willing to be here and let go of your history and your story, the more life can unfold in this moment.