I’ve spent the second half of my life in two separate NYC area homes. Because I was no longer moving around as I did in the first half of my life, I’ve managed to include several good people in my life. My friendships cover 30 years to the most recent of 4 years.
We have sat over many cups of coffee and tea, and, of course, glasses of wine, and shared desserts. All those hours together we spoke about nothing or deep concerns or issues that plagued our well-being. That’s what you do when you build a friendship.
We are also there for each other…we have shared breakups, death, marriages, births, milestones in our children’s lives, and the yearly continuance of celebrating each other’s birthdays. Another year passes, and we recognized that we were getting older, yet we have each other to sit within this space of our mortality. What a beautiful gift to share.
During those hours, we gathered impressions about each other, what we liked, how sensitive we were, topics that were not to be discussed, as well as the core goodness of each of us. We each created our beliefs around the other person, and have depended on them continuing to be the same. Of course, we did want them to change some things, but generally, we thought we knew each other, and there wasn’t anything new to find out.
I have different levels of friendships…some closer than others, yet I share the journey of my life through these powerful friendships.
What I’ve been noticing is that we take our friends for granted; we don’t always listen to them.
Yes, I’m one of those sometimes non-listeners. Put a group of women friends together, and you will see a big ball of energy; everyone is busy talking, sometimes listening, injecting similar like stories, and making tons of suggestions what you can do.
That’s what we do with others…we are busy thinking about what we are going to say, or how we relate to what they said or inject what we think they should feel. We hand out hours of useful advice, of which some is wanted.
I sat with a group of my friends and one friend said, “Pat yells at me when I speak about this topic.” In that brief statement, I felt the full intrusion of my thoughts on a dear friend. She meant it playfully, and yet, if a friend feels ‘yelled at’ then I have to step back and reflect on my behavior. I know that I don’t want to add negative energy to a dear friend’s world. I want to be the ‘yummy energy’ that adds love and acceptance of a beautiful person.
I recognize at that moment that I wasn’t listening to her. I was interjecting my opinion regarding her thoughts…without her request. She was ok with my advice, but I wasn’t anymore. Another friend said all we want in life is to be listened to and accepted by another person. Have you felt listened to?
It’s not black or white…I do listen and am present, and I’m busy with my thoughts. It’s a quiet awareness that I want to continue to build loving and caring friendships and listening to the other person is part of the richness of my life…as well as a gift I give to the other person.
You don’t have to make massive changes to your interactions, though it’s a gift if you stop long enough to sit with a dear friend or a loved one. Just look at them, see who they are at the moment, and celebrate their presence in your life.
In what ways can you tell that someone is listening to you? In what ways do you listen to others, so they know they are being heard?
Women’s Group Topics
Listening is an excellent topic in a group because a group process doesn’t always lend itself to listening to others. I wonder if it’s because too many people, overstimulated by the conversation, or the group hasn’t set ground rules about listening to others. How is listening a skill we can learn and how do we strengthen this skill in our lives.
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”
(By Pat Brill)
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