by Anna

“We have two ears and only one tongue
in order that we may hear more and speak less”.
Laertius Diogenes

For me, attending a basic counselling course has brought a considerable shift in awareness. Although I always used to be a patient listener whenever someone wanted to get something off their troubled chest, I have come to realise that there has also been a build-up of a growing need to express myself over the past few years. This need has unfortunately turned into eruptions of never-ending sentences that spill and spill the more excited about something I become.

An interesting fact to notice here is that there was a time during my humble years as an insecure teenager where people would say to me that I was very quiet and ask why I would never talk! Maybe there was just nothing to talk about.

Recently my college tutor asked us to consider this: “Are we listening to listen, or are we listening to speak?”

I wonder what your answer is. Mine was a shocking “listening to speak”. Dear friend of mine who is reading this, please don’t take this as a rude admitting to not ever listening to you! I do listen, however, there is a fear inside of me that I won’t be listened to in turn, or that I need to have an answer at the ready to keep the conversation going, because I worry that a moment of silence would mean the end of our conversation. Behold, I possess the power of insight and recognition and am working on it!

I have now taken a majestic step back and am actively making an effort to just listen without trying to have an answer at the ready. Well, you see, I promptly got caught out at the recap bit at the end of a training day last week. I was sincerely patiently listening to everyone duly answering their given question and when it was my turn I swam in my holy silence like algae drifting in the underwater current.

Ok, I learned my lesson: It is the right timing that matters.

A little side effect I have noticed when completely succumbing to my listening to others is the warm feeling of being there and then totally right in the moment, NOW. This is an experience I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on. So the next time you are listening to someone, drop your shoulders (and whatever else you’re holding on to) and just listen!

One challenge I am working really hard on at the moment is to attempt to listen to someone who talks way to much, it could nearly be considered harassment. Every information is boldly given in a minimum of three different versions without any means of visual fullstops, commas or any other means of putting a halt to the attack of words. Even if you turn away, walk away, hide…the words follow you, or catch up with you later. It is very, very tiring, very exhausting indeed. I have tried so many unforgiving times to turn it into an enjoyable conversation, but failed miserably every time. I just lose the plot! I feel like I am about to suffocate, drown in a field of never-ending puddles as soon as the first word drops down on me.

At least I learned one thing from it: Listen more, talk less.