Listening, something so easy to do but yet something that we often have difficulty doing. We are distracted by our phones, by our own problems, or by other people in the room, that we often are not truly listening, not giving our friends and loved ones our full attention when they come to us with something they are struggling with.
For years, I felt alone because I wasn’t listened to when I spoke up to my ex about something that was bothering me. I was often cut off, told to shut-up, or told that how I was feeling was stupid and wasn’t worth feeling upset over because it wasn’t something he would get upset over, so it in turn became meaningless. I remember feeling shut down in my tracks, going from excited to miserable because he didn’t listen, didn’t let me finish my thoughts, and didn’t agree with what I was saying.
In those moments, I didn’t really need a response to solve my problems and I most certainly didn’t need the negativity and sadness he brought me, but I did need him to listen to me, to hear me, to try and understand even if how I was feeling didn’t make sense to him, or even to me at the time, and I needed him to not shut me out. I could have been 10 feet tall but felt like I was only a bug on the table waiting to be squished when I spoke up to him. I felt small and in turn held feelings in that were screaming to be let out.
Since leaving that relationship and starting therapy, I realized the true power of listening. I realized that I could talk freely to my therapist and feel heard. I felt listened to, without judgement, without fear of being yelled at. I realized that even if my therapist didn’t do anything the whole session but listen, I felt so much better and so relieved because I had the opportunity to speak my mind and be truly heard. Since being made to feel small, it has been my goal and my mission to listen wholeheartedly and let my friends and family know they are not alone. I aim to listen without judgement, ask questions to understand even if I don’t agree, and be a shoulder to cry on. I aim to never make someone feel as small as I was made to feel. I aim to listen, because I know how powerful listening can be. I now only surround myself with those, both new and old, who listen and reassure me that things will be okay with time.
I have always emphasized that it is important even if you don’t agree with or understand how someone is feeling, to simply just listen to them and what they are going through. Simply asking someone if they are okay and letting them know you are there for them, is something so simple, yet so extremely powerful. Too often we feel like we won’t have the right words to say to people who reach out to us in need, so we keep our distance as a safer alternative. But you can make such a huge difference by just listening to someone’s story.
When we listen to others, we let them know without even saying the words that their feelings are valid, that they themselves are valid and that we care about them. When we listen to other people’s story and allow them to be vulnerable and honest with us, the unexpected benefit is that we too can feel empowered to tell our own story and feel confident that someone will also listen to us when we are struggling.
You may not have all the answers, you may not understand, you may not feel like you can make a difference in improving the situation, but you do have the ability to provide a listening, comforting ear, which may seem trivial, but makes a whole world of a difference. When you realize the power of simply listening, you realize just how very powerful you can be in helping others. Being there for someone when they need it most, can save their life, how powerful is that? Listening truly counts. You can be a vital piece in someone’s recovery, just by listening. Even when you think you are powerless, you can be powerful just by shutting off distractions and truly hearing that person, truly listening to that person and their story.
And if you have ever been like me, crying on the floor, feeling hopeless and worthless because someone in your circle doesn’t listen and makes you feel small for how you feel, please don’t give up. If your cry for help was put onto deaf ears, know that person was supposed to be part of your journey only to help you to grow and to give you strength to keep telling your story until you find someone that cares, someone who very well could have been there all along, waiting for you to open up, waiting to help you. Trust me when I say, you are loved and someone in your circle wants to listen to you. If I had stopped trying after being defeated and broken down for 3 years, I wouldn’t be here today, but I was able to find the power of listening from my therapist and loved ones who had always cared, and I finally saw what recovery and healing truly looked like.
Today, take the time to listen and surround yourself with people who listen to you. Let’s create a more positive, supportive and loving community where we feel empowered to speak up and say how we feel, even when how we feel doesn’t quite make sense to us yet.
Be Beautifully Simply You