Posted by Steve Beckow on August 23, 2014
The Golden Ear Award
Italics and bold print is mine. Mariann
Suggested Reading for a GoldenGaia Meet-up
I had a reading with Archangel Michael on Friday and he said we’d emerge from the Tsunami of Love “addicted to love.” The next wave is being called “the perfect storm.”
But a lot of what’ll come up for some people during some of that process – me included – are their core issues, major vasanas, etc. I actually phoned my therapist brother in Victoria, B.C. and warned him to expect an increase in clients – some leaving marriages, some feeling life is not worth it, etc.
The most important skill at this time that I can think of to assist anyone who’s hurting is listening. And there’s more to listening than meets the ear. I’d like to discuss some aspects of it, in this and perhaps future articles.
Listening has the power to turn the puzzle into a picture and cause a realization … and more. It has the power to set the speaker free from the unwanted condition.
When I was studying listening back in the 1980s, I used to say that what we aimed for was allowing the speaker to present their most basic upsets, conundrums, etc. (maximum danger) in a manner that posed the least possible risk (minimum risk). Maximum Danger: Minimum Risk. MXD:MNR
What does it mean to listen in a manner that poses minimum risk? It means to serve as a Second Self, a “sacred partner” we’d say these days. It would double, or quadruple, the person’s ability to see into themselves by seeing along with them, feeling along with them. and realizing along with them. It means to listen closely but with a light touch.
The Second Self that we act as is outside the upset and holds the space for the speaker to turn the puzzle into a picture. It allows the speaker the opportunity to put everything on the table and see what they’ve been missing up till now.
Very few people get the opportunity to be listened to long enough to get out all that’s really troubling them. Most people interrupt after a few sentences. Or they take the ball and run with it (“run away with their share”). Or they succumb to a need to feel useful and important and give in to the desire to counsel, console, advise – everything but listen.
When I was practising to be a counsellor in my Sociology Ph.D years, I followed Problem-Solving Therapy but quickly saw that very few people were buying my solutions. After much frustration, I saw that most people simply wanted to be heard.
So I threw my solutions out the window. No one was buying them anyways. I may as well have been selling water by the river. And I began to listen.
I threw away my need to feel important and instrumental in the success of their inquiry, which they were perfectly capable of running themselves, if only someone cared to listen. I simply set about following what they were saying and “recreating” (creating anew within myself) whatever it was they wanted to look at and feel.
I had a commitment to the truth but I also had a commitment to acting naturally. Be myself. Be who I am.
Everything they said to me was a chapter heading. I could have encouraged them to unroll any heading and had to be watchful for what was being said that was really the key. A word, a metaphor, a conclusion, a decision – you never knew when the one thing would be said that was crucial to their release from the unwanted condition.
Periodically I’d share something myself, a very small intervention, just to show that I had my hat in the ring. I did not redirect them. I did not take over their process. I did not say to them “Go into your heart. Get out of your head.” Everyone goes into their heart once they get a head of steam going. Their heart is where they want to get to. No one needs to be schooled in that. We’re love-seeking machines.
I simply got each thing that was said and waited for the one key piece to mirror back to them.
I’d mirror back from time to time my understanding of what was said, how they looked, what they seemed to be feeling. I’d watch gestures, body language, listen to tones, the rise and fall of their voice. I might periodically hear a favorite expression or hear a significant pause, which I’d mirror back. Anything could cause the breakthrough.
Feelings are particularly important to mirror back because our mind files our upsets under “feeling” headings.
Mirroring is foolproof because, if I got it wrong, they corrected me. So whether or not I got their drift the first time, I was sure to get it as a result of their correction.
Everything they said I held in confidentiality. Nothing they said would I bring back to them in a way that was confrontive.
Never would I disagree with what they were saying because I felt in my bones that they knew what they wanted to say. They only lacked a listener, not a sense of where they were going with things. It wasn’t that they lacked understanding of what was happening. It was more that they lacked someone who cared enough to invest the time to hear them completely.
If only they could get the whole story out, they could see what they were dealing with.
Listening is the greatest gift one person can give another. Listening is the alchemy of transformation and the speaker is himself or herself the alchemist. We’re simply the catalyst.
Listening is a very humble act. If the person got their “Aha!” all they really wanted to do was to rush out the door and tell their loved ones what they had seen. Many left without saying thank you.
Good listening is invisible. The number of people who said I was a brilliant conversationalist was legion, when all I did was listen. What conversation? Listening is not a conversation. It’s the other person speaking.
Once they achieved release, I never took them back into the upset. To do so would have been to recreate the unwanted condition all over again. Release was what we aimed for and the truth of their situation was what would set them free. Off they went to tell their partner or spouse what they’d seen. And that was fine with me. Mission accomplished.
The secret, if there is one, was to have a light touch, be non-threatening, be Maximum Danger: Minimum Risk. I am the listener. I think of this as “having a light touch” or “being light.” That is my mission. To be Light.