True Listening

Work of attention – M. Scott Peck A thirty year old talented professional man in treatment for feelings of anxiety related to low self-esteem could recall numerous instances in which his parents, also professionals, had been unwilling to listen to what he had to say or had regarded what he had to say as being of little worth and consequence. The most vivid and painful was that of his twenty-second year when he wrote a lengthy provocative thesis that earned his graduation from college with high honours. Being ambitious for him, his parents were absolutely delighted by the honours he had received. Yet despite the fact that for a whole year he left a copy of the thesis around in full view in the family living room and made frequent hints to his parents that “they might like to have a look at it,” neither one of them ever took the time to read it. ” I daresay they would have read it,” he said toward the end of the therapy, “I daresay they would have even complimented me on it had I gone to them and asked them point-blank, “Look, would you please, please read my thesis? I want you to know and appreciate the kind of things I am thinking.” But would have been begging them to listen to me, and I was damned if at twenty-two I was going to go around begging for their attention.

*************************************************************************************************** The need for one’s parents to listen is never outgrown. In fact the need to be heard is never outgrown. There is no other way to show to others that they are valuable other than value them by truly listening to what they have to say. I have once felt what the thirty year old man felt. Although it was not from my parents, it was from my ex-partner. I can now understand why I did not believe I was loved. Love is an act – true listening is one of the manifestation of love. True listening requires effort to put aside our current preoccupation and devote time and all senses to listen. To truly listen 100% of the time to everyone in our lives would leave us with no time for anything else we have to do. To selectively listen all the time, we will always be having empty conversations. Do you remember? Sometimes when we listen to music, we close our eyes and let the music wash over us. Sometimes when we smell the scent of freshly cut grass, we close our eyes and breath deep. Letting the scent gush into our nostrils, into our body. We intentionally do not want to get distracted by what we see and want to feel the music, smell the scent. If we intent to take in with all our senses when we are listening, that I guess, is true listening. And we will hear so much more. Photo credit:


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