Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Hear. Think. Feel.

Outside my window, snow covers the ground, ice crystals dance in the air. Baby, it's cold outside.

Inside, I am toasty warm. A space heater warms the air. In the halo of the tulip shaped light that stands on my desk, I type on my computer keyboard.

All is well with my world -- even though I'd like it to warm up outside!

I want to wear bright colours and light fabrics. I want to go barefoot and gloveless. But, baby, it's cold outside.

Guess I'll just have to turn the heat up.

No matter how hard I wish for it to be different, the weather does what it wants to do. Right now an Arctic front is colliding with warm Pacific air right over our city. I can't see the collision of these two colossal winds, but the meteorologist tells me they're there, and the temperature outside says it's true.

I'd like to tell the Arctic front to go fine other climes but, it just isn't listening. The only recourse I have, is to accept what is and dress accordingly.

Weather and people are very similar. I can't control them. No matter how hard I tell them what to do. They always do what they want.

Why can't I be as adaptable with people as I am with the weather?

Sometimes, I forget that life is about giving, not taking. Awhile ago a very dear friend was telling me about something bothering her. I gave a list of suggestions of what she could do to fix herself and make it all better.

Truth is, she didn't need my list. She needed my ears, my heart and my compassion. She needed me to love her, exactly where she was at, not where I thought she should be. My friend wasn't looking for someone to fix her problem. She was in need of someone willing to hear her, acknowledge her pain and offer her encouragement.

At Choices, during the Givers 1 weekend, there is an exercise called, I Hear. I Think. I Feel. The purpose of the exercise is to mirror back for someone what you heard them say, and then to give your thoughts and feelings.

Here's an example, the other person says, "I got up this morning, had breakfast and because I was still tired, went back to bed."

My response in the I HEAR part of this exercise would be: I heard you say you got up this morning, had breakfast and because you were still tired, went back to bed.

In the THINK, I might respond, I think you were smart to listen to your body. OR, I might say, I think it's wrong to go back to bed after breakfast (and then spend five minutes justifying why!).
Both responses are judgements. In the first response, however, I affirm what they did, which is good, but I'm still judging.

In the FEEL, I might respond, I feel like you gave yourself a much needed break. OR, I feel like you gave into your depression. OR, I feel like you missed the best part of the day...

The responses are my opinions of what the other person was doing.

In the Think and Feel sections, it's important to talk about how I feel, about my feelings, not about the other person.

For example, I could have said, I think it's important to listen to our bodies. I feel inspired by what you did and will remember it next time I wake up tired. While I don't always have the time to go back to bed, I will give myself the opportunity whenever I can. Thanks!

Now, that's a pretty simple example, but can you feel the difference? Can you feel how the last response affirms the other person and keeps me centered in my feelings and thoughts?

When I gave my friend my list of 5,342 things she could do to 'make herself better', I was casting judgement. I was not listening, speaking to encourage her, or to honour her journey. I was telling her what to do. She didn't need that. She needed my support. She needed me to not judge, but rather to simply HEAR her. To give her space to be where she's at, supported by my love. What I thought she needed to do is not the issue. Hearing her, acknowledging her pain, and surrounding her with love was.


I will carry these words with me as I move into my day. They are a powerful example of how I can be the best me that I can be, how I can honour those around me and walk with integrity, dignity and grace through my day. And in the process, how I can give to receive what I need and want. --

Love. The more I give. The more I receive.

In the meantime, I'll keep bundled up to ensure I weather the cold outside with warm hands capable of holding my heart open to the limitless possibilities of my day.

Have a wonderful hearing day!


Anonymous said...

you are so right through out the post.

when we are dealing with human beings we should sincerely try to be guided by feelings.

you are a very wonderful lady.


Maureen said...

One of the things we all learn by using the Dialogue approach - whether with friends, SOs, colleagues at work, anyone - is that sharing does not equate to wanting solutions. Another is the importance of being able to hear oneself so that listening can occur.

It's not always easy to remember to use the Dialogue. It seems artificial at first. I can attest, however, that it works.

katdish said...

Sometimes the very best thing you can do is offer your ear, a shoulder to cry on, and the reassurance that you're there for them. It's okay not to fix things. Hope you're staying warm up there in the Great White North!

Anonymous said...

holding my heart open...

i think that is important in more ways than we know.

i feel spring will come sooner rather than later this year.

i see the light is sticking around longer each day.

Love to you


S. Etole said...

Oh, dear ...

Hope said...

what a wonderful post!
yes, warmer weather ahead!

very good sound advice, Louise as well as the comments.

thank you for sharing

Anonymous said...


regarding your responses to your friend, i suggest you take a lighter approach

you were just 'being male'

we do it all the time - go right past the listening to suggesting a fix

sometimes we ALL need to switch roles, from listener to fixer - our friends won't mind and we'll learn more about ourselves

I was having a lousy day - twisted up about too many things on 4 fronts - stressed; I sent an email to five friends asking them to help me solve a problem, knowing I only needed 1 person to call me with the solution - I sent off an email to all five. It took just under two minutes for my phone to ring .... with the solution and the paperwork will be couriered to me by Thursday

my point of this good news story is this: sometimes, when we can't figure something out, we just need to ask our friends for help (which not a typically male thing to do, but i did it anyway)