Thoughts on conscious Love and Compassion because when we attend to our greater good we are attending to THE greater good.

Archive for February, 2012

Listening to the Subtleties

The first post of this month addressed listening to the good stuff that comes to us from others and the second dealt with the voice of our Ego disguised as humility and how to defend ourselves against it.  Today’s blog post is about an altogether different kind of listening and it is the kind that doesn’t come from either an outer voice (from someone else) nor an inner one (from ourselves).  What I want to address today is the kind of listening that happens from a quiet awareness of our situation, our world and our Selves.

Each moment of each day it is easy to feel bombarded by noise that seems important:  the beep of a text message, the tone of a ringing phone, the bing-bong of a calendar reminder.  We hear ideas, we pay attention to agendas, we ask and answer questions and as a result we have begun to block out the opportunities we could have to really listen to what the world, the Universe and the collective consciousness is trying to tell us.  These constant intrusions often leave people feeling lost and in a constant state of confusion about anything deeper than the ‘to-do’ list.  There doesn’t seem to be enough time for considerations like meaning, purpose or joy.  Many people feel like they’re steering their lives in circles never coming to any conclusions or arriving at a destination because their mistakes (read: lessons) are SO familiar: “Haven’t I done this (or been here) a million times before?!”

What has happened is this:  many people have gotten so caught up in the DOING of their lives that they’ve forgotten how to actually make anything of it…the CREATING has become a lost art.  And how can anyone CREATE anything when there is no opportunity to be inspired?

Many people have stopped noticing the small signs in their life that tell them when they’re on the right (or wrong) track.  They think of that friend but don’t pick up the phone to make the call.  They notice a trend in their dreams but don’t take the time to reflect on its meaning.  They see a new possibility for themselves but deem it too risky – even though the thought of it makes our hearts soar (maybe for the first time in a long time).

It’s time to wake up to those small listening opportunities.  Life is telling us something.  Even if you believe that the only meaning that exists in these “signs” is the one that we assign it – the wisdom remains the same.  By giving ourselves the pause we need to reflect on our lives, thoughts, and path we open up the way to new possibilities for ourselves.  Simple moments of reflection carve out the opportunity to recognize what it is that drains us and, more importantly, what it is that refuels us.  Only then can we empower ourselves to break out of our default patterns and actually make healthy change in our lives.

I encourage you to take some of those moments and really use them.  The next time you’re dining out and your date visits the restroom resist the urge to check or post on your favorite social media site and, instead, let your thoughts go inside of your Self – let them swim around.   If you think of someone you’d like to contact about an idea – write it down.  If you find that you can’t stop thinking about the person that left the table – tell them.  And if you feel like you’re coming up empty consider why it is that you’ve lost touch with your Self and reintroduce the two of you.  You might be surprised at what opens up to you as a result of this kind of listening.

Choosy Listening

The previous post on listening inspired me to make February all about the nuances of listening.

Addressing how we listen to the positive statements about ourselves inevitably heightens our awareness to how much negative we take in each day.  If you’ve really been listening to the nice things people are saying (as suggested by the previous post) you’ve probably also fought the inner dialogue that tells you to negate it.  It feels more humble to diminish it in some way.  You say, “it’s nothing,” or “it’s not important.”  You may not realize it but there is a cost incurred each time you do that.  That kind of humility becomes a drain on your spirit;  the silent drip of each negative thought is the Chinese water torture of the emotional realm – it slowly, but surely eats its way through your positive view of yourself.  How can your deepest Self trust you when your logical self doesn’t seem to think much of it?

What you have to understand about that piece of you that interrupts a compliment is this:  it is simply your ego nudging at your consciousness – it is telling you that you should think about what other people think.  It is not your true voice, it is not your Truth.

Once you realize this nagging little voice that acts as a shut off valve to your rightful positive input it will become natural to fight with it.  Of course, it is just as unhealthy to negate and argue with the ego as it is to believe its assessment of you as truth.  As though this inner tug-of-war isn’t enough it won’t take long before you begin to second guess which part of you is right – the part that feels loved and nurtured by the compliment or the part of you that feels the need to diminish it.  The incessant push and pull can lead you to the point where you’re simply telling yourself just to shut up already.

And, as we all know, “shut up” is simply not nice.

Here’s a tool to use; simply acknowledge that humility response as your ego.  That’s all it really wants anyway…just a little acknowledgment will go a long way toward quieting it down:  “Hmm, that was my ego talking.”  Leave it alone now.  Turn back to the compliment and bask in it for awhile.  If that voice comes in with, “yeah, but….” let it finish and then say, “hello, ego” and return to the compliment.

It takes some conscious practice but you’ll find that, over time, you’re adapting to a more positive position in life.  You’ll slowly learn your value in the lives around you and ultimately in your own.  You’ll learn your strengths because you’re recognizing them through both the eyes of others and your own.  You’ll build on those strengths organically and soon you’ll have a better sense of your place and purpose in this life and in this world.

Listening can be transformative when you do it consciously.  Just remember, it does take practice.  If you don’t get it right straight out of the gate trust that it WILL come.  By the time it is a part of you it will be so easy that you won’t even realize what a big accomplishment you’ve made – but someone will tell you and you’ll truly hear it when they do.

Are you really listening?

On this day, February 1st, in 1926 just a few short years before the Great Depression my grandmother was born.  While she is no longer with us I continue to remember all that she brought to me and my life experience through her tenacity and strength.

Ours was not the usual part-time visits and full-time spoiling grandparent/child relationship.  To say that I was raised by a single parent would be technically true though it would fly in the face of all my grandmother gave me in her unabated and steadfast love, security and discipline.  Though she didn’t reside with us she was, as often as she could be, my before/after school guardian, my mom-is-working-late babysitter and my weekend respite caregiver which made my Grandma Jammye my second parent in many regards.

Looking back I know I spent time in good quantity and more importantly great quality and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I said how much I appreciated her often and in great detail.

I also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she never really heard my accolades.  When I talk to my kids about their Great Grandmother and how much she adored them and all that she was to me and for me I have to also add that she never really knew what a gift she was to me and to the world around her.  Every compliment was denied, every example was admonished as an exaggeration, and her every attempt at finding peace in herself for all of her mistakes through life was clouded and mired by her deflated and defeated self image.  She died truly believing she was a failure.

Needless to say, this was a painful reality to all of us who treasured her.

Here I am, 8 years later, reflecting on what that means to me.  What I come up with is this:  though I’m all too good at hearing the bad stuff and working on it diligently I will not let the people nearest me feel that I do not hear them when they speak of the good.  I will hear their words of kindness, love and compassion.  I will understand that my contributions to this world are, in large part, positive ones.  I will believe what they say about me if, for no other reason, because they took the time, energy and courage to say it to me.

With this in mind, World, I am listening, not to my inner dialogue that declares me unfit, unprepared, or not enough, but to the messages and confirmations that come from the people in whose lives I participate.  Because when it comes right down to it those words are reflections of my natural gifts…the gifts I have that I SHOULD be nurturing in order to develop and share them.

We come in contact with countless people every single day.  What messages are we hearing from them when we’re listening?  Strangers may smile and offer a quick, “thank you” for a small kindness.  Listen to it.  Know that you contributed something positive to that person’s life today.  Loved ones may tell you that you’re easy to talk to or that they look forward to your visits.  Know that you’ve given them just what they needed to feel treasured.

Live your life with a robust understanding of the gift you are to this world and you will energize yourself to be more of the wonderful person you naturally are and to achieve more of the wonderful goals you’re reaching for in the process of living.

I would love to hear from you once you’ve begun listening.  Will you share with me in the comments what you’ve heard?  Keep a mental databank of these comments.  Or, better yet, actually write them down in a small notebook and refer to them when you’re down.  Recording, recalling and sharing the ways in which you’re cherished is not an act of hubris – it is a necessary act of self recognition.