Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hear. Think. Feel.

Someone once said, “Love is saying 'I feel differently' instead of 'You're wrong.'”

At Choices, there is a process called, I Hear. I Think. I Feel. It teaches you how to listen first, ask for clarification through repeating what you heard, and then, to share how what you heard affects you, after having first given it some thought.

The real opportunity for Hear. Think. Feel. comes in those moments when emotions are high, feelings triggered and harmful responses are set to flare like fireworks on the 1st of July.

I Hear. I Think. I Feel, is always spoken in the "I" of the one speaking. Pointed fingers retreat, responsibility and accountability is claimed by both the speaker and the listener. Standing in my "I", I am not at risk of being drawn into the tumultuous winds of misinterpretations and misunderstanding. When I clarify what I've heard, and then share what I think about what I've heard before sharing my feelings, I give my feelings an opportunity to flow freely without igniting my emotions.

Last Saturday, as we worked in Givers 1 (the first weekend after Choices where trainees come back to do their "colors"), a woman asked, after practicing the Hear. Think. Feel. process, "I never have time to think. I just leap right to feeling."

Now, some of that could be related to her colours. A "Blue" person operates through their feelings. Words immediately connect to their heart. For me, my main colour is "Green", words connect with my mind and set my thinking into full gear, often avoiding my heart before I put my mouth into motion.

Connecting to my heart before I speak can be a challenge for me. I'm 'safest' in my mind. It's my comfort zone. I know how to control it. My heart is an iffy zone of messy feelings coloured by emotions that don't always respond with grace and ease to what I'm feeling. Sometimes, especially in those intense moments where I fear being hurt (or wrong) and am confused by what I'm feeling and don't know how to 'name' my feelings, I will speak first, think second and then maybe even listen!

To be able to 'hear' first, I need to breathe. I need to let someone else's words enter my mind as if riding on a breath of fresh air that expands the blood and oxygen in my brain. As my hearing translates their words into meaning, I need to slow down my thinking and let their words flow into my heart, as if carried on the winds of change connecting me to my feelings which then flow back into my mind on a river of heartfelt meaning.

For me, this is a difficult process to put into continual use. Too often, I forget to BREATHE first. In my haste to respond, (and protect myself) I omit the "what I heard you say" part and leap right into, "Here's what I think. Don't worry if what I say makes you feel like you've been wronged. I'm right. Here's why." My mind is made up before I stop to clarify whether or not I have heard what they've said correctly. As the saying goes, "My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts."

For me, the facts are often one-sided. My version of reality divorced from the action of seeking clarity from anyone else.

This is a WOW! moment for me. In realizing where I do not employ this tool effectively in my life, I have an opportunity to improve my listening skills and thus, create more harmonious and balanced relationships with everyone in my life.

In heated discussion, it's important for me to remind myself that "disagreement does not equal rejection". When I truly hear the other person with an open mind and heart, I appreciate the value of the speaker and their words. I remain open to their value being a reflection of who they are and experience the beauty of their hearts revealed through words which can sometimes be painful for me to hear. When I remain open to their value without focussing on my own pain tripping over itself to respond, I open myself up to listening from my heart and hearing their heart speak their truth in return.

My commitment for today is to practice, I Hear. Think. Feel. To employ the power of my listening to enlighten my thinking so that I can hear my heart's desire to create harmony in my world.

The question is: Are you willing to listen first and seek clarity before you respond without thinking? Are you willing to hear your heart's desire for harmony?

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