I have felt not listened to for a significant part of my life. For example, if I were speaking, someone would interrupt me with their thoughts. I would either sit quietly or as the years went on get angry. Neither one of these solutions made me feel better. I usually felt worse.
Several years ago, I challenged someone close to me that they weren’t listening to me. I realized that I had let her do it over the years, but now I didn’t want it to be the same way anymore. I was angry with her, and it came through in my message. Well…I didn’t get any response…instead a blank reaction. It was good for me to speak up for myself, but by the time I did that, I was angry. Anger never solves anything between two people…it only creates defensiveness. Now I realize that my anger is there for me to recognize that I’m not taking care of myself. It’s not about the other person…it’s all about how I can take care of myself.
Since this was happening to me for many years, I eventually had to ask myself, “What am I doing to elicit this type of response from others?” That’s not an easy question since it is easier to blame the other person than to accept responsibility for my feelings. It wasn’t a quick “aha,” but rather an evolution over many years, slowly becoming aware of my thoughts and behaviors and the message I was sending out to others.
For a long time hiding and letting others do the talking, having the limelight was just fine by me. Over the years, I started to sense that always listening was not working for me. I didn’t know how to go about this effectively so I shuffled between being quiet to being angry.
Feeling ignored was no longer comfortable for me, so I had to find a solution. The real answer was for me to start listening to myself. I’ve learned to sit with myself and acknowledge my feelings, to honor my wants, celebrate who I was and what I bring to life. There is still more learning, and I look forward to it. Becoming more aware has helped me:
- August 1999 I picked up the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I’ve read and reread her book many times, consuming her words seeking answers. I committed to doing the daily pages every day, and except for a 3-month hiatus, have done them regularly. It was critical for me to get to know myself and to write privately every day guided me to where I am today.
- Meditate – after writing, I meditate and sit quietly with myself.
- I started to listen to my body, what was it saying to me. Listening too time because I was resistant to being present with my feelings…they weren’t always pretty. I generally have a long ‘to do’ list, and that keeps me busy. Though at this point in my life, I accept my feelings, knowing they are indicators of what I truly need to do.
So how do I now deal with someone not listening to me?
- By recognizing that other people’s behaviors have nothing to do with me. They don’t love me less or more, but instead, they are just in their head.
- If it’s essential for me to continue with what I was saying, then I say, “I would love to hear your thoughts on this, and I just need a few minutes to complete my thoughts.”
- Lots of times it’s fun to be with others, interrupting, sharing, lots a fun energy and I’m not worried about being “listened to.”
- If I have this feeling that others are ignoring me, then I need to sit with myself and ask how I’m not listening to myself. In the end, it is all about what I’m doing to myself. More like what I’m not doing for myself.
- If I’m with someone who can’t listen to me, I eventually decide that this person is not the right relationship for me. Relationships are mutual.
- I trust that when I’m listening to myself, I’m more available to hear others.
How do you listen to yourself?
Women’s Group Topics
All groups bump into the issue regarding how we are listening to each other. Does your group take the time to hear each person’s contribution and do you help the talker to slow down and share the space with others?
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”