When I was kid, I was a really sensitive deep thinker. But when I tried to talk about my ideas my family got exhausted and labeled my need to talk as: “diarrhea of the mouth.” It hurt. I felt alone.
Now my son is a really sensitive deep thinker. He is eight but he pontificates about the elections, gender politics, and racism. He also wants to talk about stuff that I can’t get behind. “Johnny is a bad kid because he is mean to me on the playground.” My therapist-self wants to jump in to teach, but if I do he doesn’t feel heard. I risk repeating the wound I received.
Today, 10/21/16, all over the world, Sidewalk Talk, a community listening project I direct, is collaborating with other listening projects, therapists and listeners on city streets, in cafes, in homes, online, in libraries and on school campuses for the World Day of Listening. You might notice people offering to listen to you, ready to open their ears and hearts to you. Why? So we all feel heard. So none of us feels alone. To heal this crazy world a little bit today.
Life–and certainly our politics–can be mean. But under the meanness are a lot of feelings that want room to be heard – not fixed or argued with, but heard. And when we feel heard, something amazing happens – we feel relieved and open. We feel ok with ourselves and the world. We feel like we exist. That translates to a “pay it forward” kindness and gentleness. Couldn’t we all use a little of that right now?
Greg Madison, a UK based psychologist who initiated the WORLD DAY OF LISTENING has a quote I hold dear;
“When we practice listening to others we not only heal our democracy we also solidify INNER DEMOCRACY where every wounded part of a person gets heard and there isn’t majority rule inside.”
I also love a quote by Barbara Sullivan,
“I am seen(heard) therefore I exist.”
In San Francisco tomorrow, consider stopping by Mechanics Plaza (at Market and 1st) from 9-1 or Montgomery and Market @ BART entrance from 4:30pm to 6:30pm or any of these places all over the world and see what it feels like to be listened to in a really transformative way.
Next time you are really listened to, ask yourself…
- What does it feel like when all of your sad and mad feelings are heard non-judgmentally?
- What is it like to let your overwhelmed, nasty, anxious, gloaty, bossy, lazy, crazy or bubbly parts be heard and accepted with love?
- When you feel someone totally open, totally respectful and fully there reverently paying attention to you, what is that like?
I challenge you to come out to Sidewalk Talk or anywhere in the world Friday and see for yourself. Or volunteer or donate here to keep this work going.
And why not give someone in your life your full, listening attention for a few moments today? You might just change their world.