Sometimes I just can’t get past myself to really listen and empathize. I don’t intend to co-opt others’ feelings but I open my mouth and my own story flows.
I did this to a friend recently. She is in deep grief after the death of a mutual friend’s wife. We were discussing his welfare when my lesser self stepped in with my personal narrative. How did it feel when I was there? How have I reacted in similar situations? Worst of all…what would I do if it were me?
I think of my responses as commiseration. Sharing loss and hardship create rapport.
And it’s all true.
But none of that is as valuable as a listening heart. Nothing is as important in a friendship as providing a safe haven without expectation and without judgment.
I owe my friend an apology. I hope I have the chance to listen again.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s quotations have influenced my inner dialogue for several years. It wasn’t just that she reduced philosopy into pithy and pertinent sayings; more, it was that her conversations were homilies. Her ease and acceptance with herself and the world around her created an object lesson that was easily assimilated.
Her belief that life was a series of lessons from which we all learn helped me quiet my inner critic. She helped me comprehend that although I have made, still make, and will continue to make huge mistakes, I am not malicious or evil. I am a student of life who wants to live to my greatest spiritual potential. The rocks in the road that trip me up are those things that need my attention. They are route corrections for me to assimilate in order to keep moving forward.
I am thankful for all the gifts she has left for me to open as I am ready. Her words and her example are lasting legacies.
“If you’re are paralyzed with fear it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.”
― Steven Pressfield
In his work, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks at length about resistance. I’m very familiar with the subject and so perhaps what I have learned from his book is the value of resistance to our creativity. And, of course, he hit me in the face with what I already knew, that the only cure for resistance is to act. Just begin. Write, paint, sing, dance…do!
I have thought a lot about this naturally occuring human reaction and I am going to accept Pressfield’s premise that the higher the resistance to our creativity, the more valuable the work we have to do. Enough said. Got it!
It’s the resistance in my daily life that I value more highly right now. How would I come to self-awareness without my own resistance? Many times I don’t realize that I am on the wrong path until I find myself playing computer games and eating…continually. My mind is tired and nausea creeps in before I recognize that the heaviness in my chest is not from too much sugar. My body is there to talk to me. It is tired of whispering and ready for me to listen.
“I don’t want to do this.”
“That does not fulfill my purpose.”
I have boxed myself in, shut myself out, or become trapped in minutiae. I have buried my spirit in activities. I am following tradition rather than my own truth.
Yes, there are many messages. I have but to listen and change course, if ever so slightly. Thank you for the reminder, Mr. Pressfield.