Something that’s hard to admit but I know I struggle with is listening. I believe the kind of listening as an act of compassion is something I am very good at. A friend needs time to vent, I am there to listen, no judgements. I feel confident in my empathetic listening as it is a way I feel helpful and take my time comforting and making someone feel better, which comes naturally to me. The kind of listening where I open my ears so that I can learn is where I am lacking. I have decided to prioritize my focus on becoming a better listener.
For so long I lived a crowded life. Running on high volume with an incredibly loud mind and constant socialization as distraction. My focus as I’ve built an independently happy life has been to be independent. The trauma from my past hindering my openness to help and guidance from others. Feeling if I leave my life in anyone else’s hands, I have the potential of being manipulated and losing sight of my true power, my control. But who says learning from others is giving away my power? Call it “control issues” or call it what it really is, closed-mindedness and unwillingness to learn. Isn’t collecting more information enabling me to have more control? I always have the option to take or leave what is given to me, but to leave a learning opportunity unopened, ignore that gift, is only hurting me. How can I be in power of my growth if I’m not listening?
Earlier this week my friend posted a weight lifting video arching her back. In Pilates your lower back is supposed to stay down and I just recently made the connection with my upper abs to keeps my lower back flat. I try to eliminate arguments from my life. If I disagree with someone, I ask myself if it’s beneficial to anyone to hear my opposing opinions. Can I offer new information in a way that is appreciated or would my suggestions only feel like an attack? If it’s the latter, I bite my tongue. This person is happier with their opinion and I don’t want to take that away from them. Agree to disagree in silence. I have never bench pressed like this friend so I made sure to quickly google the suggested form. With an extremely quick search and a few spotted “no arch” finds, I decided I was knowledgable enough to share my newly learned technique. I reached out with this technique and the hopes of helping her safety and efficiency with her exercise. She explained to me that you’re supposed to have an arched back. For a second, my ego was hurt. I was just trying to help, why so quick to reject my advice? She isn’t listening to me. But then I took a step back. Reminded myself of my mission to become a better listener. Who claimed me the queen of bench pressing when she has been at this for months? Although my initial gut prefers to be right, I’d actually rather learn something new. I told her I was interested in learning about bench press form if she was willing to help me. She was patient enough to explain what she has learned and sent me some articles to back it up. I could let go of my opinion. I listened, let go of my pride and I learned. It may seem like blogging is about helping people, but through social media and interactions with my readers, I get the chance to be helped in return. In this case, I was expecting a helping moment and walked away feeling I was the one who was helped the most. I hope my feeling rewarded is mutual and my friend got something out of teaching me.
It is so easy to get carried away in the industry of motivating. I do feel I have so much to offer and I catch myself interrupting to share insight instead of listening, learning and growing from someone else’s. Every second I forget to listen, I am losing the potential to gain new intel. The opportunity to add to what I can offer. With patience and open ears, I can attain more knowledge to eventually share myself. Isn’t that the mission? To offer any and all advice that can change someone’s life? How is it that I already know everything there is to know? That is the best part of living. We can’t possibly know everything. Each day, every moment, holds opportunity to learn more.
Am I the obnoxiously loud girl? When my parents would remind me to lower my volume in a public restaurant, I used to get defensive. I wasn’t listening to what they were suggesting. They weren’t telling me to quiet my voice, but to be mindful of how I was speaking. I was so quick to deny that I am that girl at the table instead of simply owning my flaws and working towards the person I want to be: respectful, calm, and collected. I am not perfect, perfect isn’t the goal. However, when I notice repetitive behavior that I am not proud of, I know the person I want to be is within myself.
For so long my voice was faded out. Trained by experience not to matter. My mind wasn’t capable of being clear enough to speak anything of value. I was sick, I couldn’t be accountable for my words. Anything I said was “the disease” talking. My words twisted as paranoia or diminished to the retaliation of feeling like the world was against me.
I will not lose my voice now that it’s been found.
I don’t need to be loud to be heard.
My voice doesn’t need to be most powerful to remain in power of my own life.
I will continue to speak, but in addition, I will truly listen.