3P Random Reflections Blog
In the past, if anything appeared to go wrong in our workdays, my husband and I would share our stories with
each other once we got home.
We would talk about all the reasons why we were right and why
they were wrong. And funnily enough, each of us, in support of the other, would use our creative cooperation to come up with even more reasons to be upset, to further prove the assigned rights and wrongs... many more reasons than either of us would ever have
come up with on our own. We took an apparent bad situation and made it much worse by getting validation from someone else, by adding more personal significance and meaning, and by extending its otherwise fleeting life.
And then after some insight into the illusory nature and feeling of insecure thought, we saw how we were taking inherently neutral situations, and then adding stories that bolstered our egos, created
division, and fostered our own suffering.
We've pretty well stopped this habit, although when we do occasionally imbibe, whoever is the listener often knows enough
to NOT add to the story, and to gently listen instead, until the story teller eventually wears out or wakes up.
Being able to navigate life with less need for the
insecure side of our ego (judging, blaming, justifying, reasoning, defending), and with more simple common sense (just doing what needs to be done, if anything), is a blessing.
Eckhart Tolle has a few amusing stories to point to this... https://youtu.be/Ci8ZAj6Z8C4
One of the fascinating things about gaining a glimpse of the Truth of Life is that you begin to see wisdom
everywhere... Words that you've read hundreds of times before suddenly take on new meaning. Scenes that you've seen thousands of times before suddenly offer something new to see. And thoughts that you've had a million times before suddenly appear with new
You find yourself living in the exact same physical world that you were in before, but the experience of it becomes
something completely different.
You then get to fall back into an awareness of life
that you had when you were very new to this world, without all the heaviness of beliefs and limitations collected from a lifetime of thinking.
You get to notice and
feel once again, the wonder of life, the mystery of life, the abundance of life, with no clear sense of where you end and the rest of the world begins.
open a door in your mind that reveals an infinite number of other doors yet to be explored.
What new wonders will greet you in this new year and new life, as the endless
appearance of each new NOW reveals itself?
One of the paradoxes in life is that "trying" to feel better, in the long run, actually makes us feel worse...
It's not so much what we choose to do in life, but the underlying (sometimes not so obvious to us) reasons for doing it.
If we do self-help or self-care mostly to
quell all the negative judgments we have about ourselves, or to sate our never-ending list of shoulds, then the negative judgments and shoulds will never end.
Instead, there's something beautifully profound in discovering 1) the illusory nature of our negative thinking, and 2) the realization of where our judgments and shoulds come from.
In the moments when we happen to be in touch with the calmer/peaceful/connected part of ourselves (our true nature), our actions come without much thought and are naturally more self-caring.
In the moments when we are disconnected, and giving significance to our thinking, our actions and thoughts become focused on how to fix or change or improve whatever we think is not enough or broken in some way.
And the fixing never ends... We think that "life will be better once this is fixed", not realizing that if/when it gets fixed, more things keep getting added to the list.
Instead of continually exploring all the self-care measures and gadgets and programs designed to "fix" us, some gentle self-reflection may be the better direction to look in
Discovering and living from the space of deeply KNOWING that we don't need fixing, is paradoxically what allows us to give ourselves the best self-care.
I had a realization a few years ago that EVERY human being frequently experiences insecure thought... anger, fear, worry, frustration, judgment, envy, depression,
anxiety, hate, loneliness, worthlessness, despair, hopelessness... the list is endless.
We get a temporary negative feeling of being "separate/disconnected (insecure) in some way", we label the feeling, we look for all the sources within us or outside of us to be the reasons for the feeling, and then we
do whatever makes sense to either numb the feeling, or distract from the feeling, or avoid the feeling, or fix what we now believe to be the reasons for the feeling... creating our personal addictions.
And this process doesn't happen step-by-step so that we can see it. It's instantaneous. We don't even
know that it's happening. The results of it are immediately manifested in the thoughts in our mind and the feelings throughout our body, appearing convincingly real.
We're never really addicted to anything, as much as we are addicted to wanting to feel better. We are simply having moments
or periods of feeling bad, thinking it's bad to feel bad, assigning a source to the feeling, and then looking for a way out of the feeling.
And so we numb the feeling (drugs, alcohol, etc.), we avoid and distract from the feeling (sleep, eat, social media, work, judge others, etc.) and we fix the feeling
(change, achieve, strive, accumulate, fight, etc.) in an infinite number of forms.
Each of us tends to have our own "habits of personal crazy"... what we frequently do to numb, avoid, distract, or fix, which then becomes part of our perceived personality, and part of what we present to the world in
And most of us completely
miss noticing how bad feelings pass all on their own every time we somehow happen to take them less seriously or give them less attention. As children we intuitively know this, but we simply forget this over time, with our lifetime of collected, believed craziness.
And if at any point, we somehow remember this
in any way... perhaps we discover that all bad feelings are only the very human and temporary flow of insecure thought, or perhaps we get some sense of our intrinsic connection to everything and everyone in life (an innate feeling/knowing of security)...
the consequence is that our insecure thought (bad feeling), in whatever form it appears, has much less hold over us.
We then experience feeling bad without all the meaning and significance added. We gain back a more childlike experience of life. We take things much less seriously. We're not as
afraid to feel bad. All feelings then simply become an abundance of richly felt experience, rather than something to be numbed, avoided, distracted, and fixed. We get to navigate life with a lot less thought and a lot more grace.
All of us already know this in some way. We all have had bad feelings
that we have somehow taken less seriously. We all have had bad feelings that have passed without conscious effort. We just haven't yet made the significant distinction that all feelings are the inevitable flow of "up and down" human energy, rather than the
solid indicator of any particular truth about ourselves or the world.
Despite having seen this unexpectedly and profoundly for myself, I am still human. I still experience insecure thought in multiple forms. I still experience the perceived bad feelings that go along with it, and that show up in
various forms in my body. I still have the experience of not liking it and taking it seriously. But now I more often wake up again to the illusory nature of the craziness being created through my mind and body, I relax, I laugh, I breathe, and I settle.
And overall, with much less of the heaviness
of a lifetime collection of serious thought, and with a sense of the deeper secure feeling of the energy of life itself... life becomes a playground of infinite experiences to play in, where feeling bad isn't something we ever have to feel bad about.
I was in a group discussion the other day, where the topic was listening. After the call,
I started reflecting on all the "ways to listen" that I had previously shared as a corporate trainer. The more I reflected, the more how-tos came to mind...
- Use your incredible power of awareness. Notice when your mind has left the room and gently bring
yourself back in.
- Don't jump in with your first response. Wait to see what else comes up.
- Don't jump in to "telling". If you have to jump in with anything, then jump in with "asking"... Reflect on what you don't yet know and then ask what
occurs to you.
- Be curious
- Realize that you can't be heard until the person you are with has been (and more importantly, has felt) heard first
- You have two ears and one mouth for a reason
- If you're
afraid of forgetting what you want to say while the person speaks, write down key words as they occur to you, so you can remember what to say later, and so you can get back to listening now. Later, notice how many of your written "pearls of wisdom" were never
needed, and may actually have been in some way detrimental to the conversation or connection.
- Notice your body
language and feelings as clues to how well you're listening... Are you relaxed or tense? Are you smiling? How is your breathing? Are you leaning forward or back? Is your body open or closed? Are you mimicking their physical behaviours or contradicting them?
Are you making eye contact? Is your tone of voice equal to theirs? Are you at the same height (not standing while they're sitting or vice versa)? Are you feeling connected or separate? Do you like them or dislike them in the moment?
- Move to a calm, quiet environment conducive to listening
- Put down your phone, clear your desk, and turn away your computer screen before listening
- Plan ahead for the conversation, but don't go in with any assumptions or attachments to the outcome
- Leave your judgments, assumptions, and expectations at the door
- Leave your ego at the door
- Clients may not notice it, but they will always say that the best conversations were the ones where they did most of the talking...
and when the person they were with asked them questions that got them thinking in a new way
- Be creative with your
questioning to get them thinking and to get you listening... make them mostly open questions, don't ask them only what they already know, ask them to compare, ask them about best/worst/most/least, ask them "what if", ask them to imagine or speculate. Repeat
back what they've said to get confirmation for both of you, that what they said is what you heard (use their words so they feel important and heard)
- Selling is not telling
- Get used to the awkward discomfort of silence. Give them time
to think. Give yourself time to reflect.
- Earn their trust and feel the connection (ie, listen) before sharing your
- Listening is not a passive skill, it's a proactive skill
- Ask for permission to take notes
- Ask for permission to ask questions
- Even ask for permission to listen... get permission for the silence
Those are just the ones that came off
the top of my head, but the list goes on and on and on. And a grain of truth can be found in every single point, BUT there's something else that is so much greater to be seen.
In my past role, learning from all sorts of professional training organizations, there wasn't one single person, or at least
any one that I can remember, who ever gave me any indication that listening was NOT a skill and that NONE of the points on the list above could actually be "learned".
No one ever pointed out that underneath the experience of genuine listening was the deeper place it came from... that gave
every action its truth, and its authenticity, and its unique power in the moment.
No one ever pointed out that any moments of "doing listening" would get in the way of listening, and would more often arise as shallow, or off, or inauthentic, or parroting.
No one ever pointed out the possibility that "practice doesn't make perfect" and that
there's a greater underlying truth to realize.
No one ever pointed to the fact that listening was not something to do, or to gain, but more of something to just BE.
No one ever pointed out that listening was simply any moment we remember, "who and what we are within the essence of life itself".
Whenever any of us fall into any sense of this "impersonal, unconditional
experience of life", we tend to lose our personal ego, we tend to lose our desperate need to be seen and heard and validated, we tend to fall into a felt space of emptiness, or calm, or peace, or love, or curiosity, or appreciation, or understanding, or wonder.
And from there, we truly listen. In those moments we "are" listen.
And so everything on the long list of listening behaviours are not something to do, or to practice. All that effort unwittingly keeps us in our head and out of our heart.
Perhaps if there is anything to do, there is simply the happenstance of noticing whenever our own experience
of listening comes more naturally, and pondering gently on where that easy feeling comes from.
Just a tiny glimpse of that is EVERYTHING.