The Art of Listening

Listening. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Most of us have decent physical hearing while those of us who don’t, wear a hearing aid. Yet, do we really listen? Do we quiet our inner thoughts, or do we think of what we’re going to say next? Are we able to truly listen with our hearts without prejudice? Do we respect another enough to not interrupt (unless there’s a fire or something), or do we finish others’ thoughts or correct them before they finish speaking? We say ‘I hear you,’ but do we really?

I think these questions surface in me as one of our youth needed to truly be listened to last weekend. Also, I understand firsthand what it’s like to not feel listened to, to not feel understood, and to not feel respected for my point of view. Webster’s defines ‘dialogue’ as ‘interchange and discussion of ideas, especially when open and frank, as in seeking mutual understanding or harmony.’ I daresay a lot of us don’t listen well. We have barriers to listening: our own agenda, mental or physical or emotional distractions, our own preconceived thoughts or ideas; the list goes on. Do I listen well? Likely not. I find myself wanting to interject my story, my viewpoint, and my thoughts, even if those are not wanted or needed. How are you doing with respect to your listening?

Lord Jesus, please help us to listen to those with whom we speak, in the manner we need to at the time, and in a way that is pleasing to You. Help us to understand not only the words but the intent behind them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

Entombment of poor self-esteem

How do I know if I have poor self-esteem, you may ask. It may be that your self-esteem is not poor, but you could still have a wounded image of yourself that needs healing. Here are some signs:

  1. You need the compliments or approval of others to feel good about yourself. This could also be a symptom of approval addition if the need for the approval is too great.
  2. You say unnecessarily negative things to yourself about yourself.
  3. You emotionally beat yourself up for making a mistake, doing something stupid, missing an appointment, being late, and so on.
  4. You believe you’re not worthy of being treated well or fairly. Note: There’s a difference between being humble and letting others emotionally walk all over you.

There are many other signs, but I’ll address these things. Some ways to combat these symptoms are:

  1. To combat approval addition:
  1. List the areas in which you hunger for approval or compliments from others, i.e. your work, appearance, cooking, housecleaning, mechanical skills, problem solving, to name a few.
  2. Next, write down beside each area what it is you believe about yourself, for example appearance: I’m not pretty (or handsome).
  3. Dig a little deeper. Is there some practical thing you can do about the situation? Face products (makeup, wrinkle cream), weight loss?
  4. Think about all your positives, the things you do well, what’s unique about you (what talents you have that others may not). Celebrate those. Remember that beauty is only skin deep. Others may look great on the outside but be ugly on the inside by being mean, inconsiderate, etc.
  5. If you have friends, ask them what they like about you. If you have to, tell them you want to learn more about yourself. You might be surprised about what you learn.
  1. The world will direct enough negative against you as it is. You don’t need any more from within you. If you have negative friends or friends that don’t respect you, consider forming relationships with more positive people.
  2. Again, others will beat you up enough (emotionally). If you really need to work on something, i.e. being late, then take steps toward the goal of being on time. Being on time is rather important.
  3. Know there’s room for improvement, but you don’t have to be perfect. Cut yourself a little slack.
  4. What’s behind the feeling or idea of unworthiness? Do people overlook you, ignore you or disrespect you? Are people (unjustly) criticizing you or treating you badly? Are you comparing yourself to someone else (i.e. they’re a better (fill in blank) than I am)? If you’re a good person and others are not playing nice, it says more about them than it does about you.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Hallowed be Thy name (OF2)

Hallowed means consecrated, sanctified, sacred, or holy. Do we treat God’s name as holy? If not, we should! That means not taking His name in vain by putting words like dammit after it. I once heard someone respond to that expression by stating “God’s last name isn’t dammit.” It was a respectful response while still making the point that we should respect God’s holy name. If we as humans don’t like our own names profaned, why would we profane God’s name, the God who made us? Doesn’t He deserve better?

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

 

Dysfunction Junction – Finding Fault and Overstepping Your Bounds

Finding fault – Simply try to mentally walk in the other person’s situation. This may be very tough to do, but try.

Overstepping your bounds:

I’ll give you some examples that may or may not be obvious to you:

  • Reorganizing or tidying others’ possessions. Unless you’re asked to or have permission to help, don’t do it! They are not your things, and others have their own ideas. What works great for you may not be helpful for someone else. Be respectful.
  • Giving unwanted or unasked for advice. This is a huge “no no!” Don’t tell others what they ‘should’ do (I call that ‘shoulding’ on others). MYOB (mind your own business) unless you’re a parent and your children are not yet adults or you’re telling someone about a scam or something else that may harm them.

You can probably think of your own examples.

Bottom line is when all else fails and the relationship is too toxic, it’s time to rethink things, even if these people are your family!

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Setting the Standard

A woman I know–I’ll call her ‘T’–was part of a group playing an early morning ‘gig’ with a military band. Her first sergeant in charge, whom I shall call Elvis, was telling dirty jokes. T didn’t think it was appropriate. When they got back to the band room, T asked to speak with Elvis. You have to understand T was very shy, so she rarely spoke up to others. But this morning was different. She was teed off (very upset)! She told the sergeant, in no uncertain terms, that his behavior was inappropriate, especially with females present. Since he was the leader, he should have set the example for the group, and he failed. When finished with her brief tongue lashing, there was absolute silence. Oh man, she had just chewed out a superior in the military. How would he react? Would he get upset and write her up for insubordination? She held her breath. Elvis thought over her challenge to his leadership briefly, looked up and said “You’re right. It won’t happen again.” T was relieved. Not only wouldn’t she get in trouble for questioning him, but he took her criticism to heart. She felt respected and listened to.

Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t easy. Sometimes you have to set the standard and ‘raise the bar’ of expectation. What if she had said nothing? Then both T and Elvis would have set a bad example, him by committing the act and her by omitting the challenge. It’s something to think about.