When a fellow therapist told me about this quote, I started to reflect on the art of listening. As therapists, we are eager to give advice and make a person’s problems go away. However, there are times when this is not what the person needs or wants. Sometimes, one of the most powerful tools we have are our ears! Listening without judgment or the intent to solve their problem can be a welcome change for some of my clients. This truly is a gift and we rarely give that gift to one another. Listening helps the other person feel like they are being seen and heard.
I can see this more clearly now as I reflect on the relationship with both of my parents. I remember always listening with the intent of fixing things for my mother. I look back now and realize that she just needed to be heard. This also reminds me of situations when my Dad complained about my Mother’s Alzheimer’s and my reaction was to jump in and try to find solutions to prevent her deterioration.
There are times when we just need to process our thoughts and feelings, and when someone listens it gives us the space to fully express ourselves. This process takes time and we don’t often feel like we have the time or are allowed to make the time.
It’s important to make a conscious effort to try this with a friend and really listen. See if this makes a difference in your own life. When you see the value of stopping and listening, it can remind you that you have the same needs in your own life.
Thanks for reading…and listening!
Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)
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