Compassionate Listening – The Greatest Gift You Can Give

In this self absorbed world we live in we might not see the value of compassionate listening, but it is valuable beyond measure.  We are all so caught up in ourselves, our lives, our dilemmas that we don’t stop to listen.  Really listen from a heart space to others.  I learned the value of this from a talk given by the great teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Compassionate listening is one of the greatest acts of kindness, yet so few of us do this.  Compassionate listening is allowing someone to feel safe enough to share and have you listen with your heart to their heartache.  He says when we do this we are lifting the weight of their heart with our compassion.  We are taking some of the heaviness off of their heart.  Despite what someone may be going through we are quick to offer advice or counsel, but really what they want more than anything is knowing that someone hears their pain.  The pained want to know they are safe to just share and be totally vulnerable.  Being able to feel safe enough to share and show vulnerability is incredibly powerful.  Yet we are generally so afraid to just let out all of our pain and vulnerabilities because we don’t feel safe doing it.  Why is that?Usually because we know people aren’t really interested in hearing us sulk or there for us in a way that we need them.  We may just need someone to listen to us cry for twenty minutes or an hour or days depending on the extent of the grief, but so few people are able to give in this compassionate way.We have to learn the importance of compassion in our worlds and how necessary it is to be compassionate to our loved ones feelings and pain.  It is this very compassion that builds strength and meaningful relationships and trusting dependable bonds for life.  While we have our family, spouses and friends we may still feel totally alone because there is not a single compassionate listener in the lot.  This is the compassion that is lacking.  This very compassion is the compassion that is needed and necessary that many of us long for.  It is so very important to allow people in your world to feel safe to share from their core.  Without this we will live only on the surface.We will say our hellos and make small talk, but never find depth in relationships that should have so much more depth to them.  When we step out of ourselves and look around and really see what’s going on beneath the surface we may come to find to our surprise there are people all around us, loved ones, family and close friends longing to share in great depth, but we just never made them feel safe enough to do so.  We owe to not only others to listen with compassion, but to ourselves.  When we give to others selflessly what we get in return is a much greater gift to ourselves.  We become more profound when we live in the power of selflessness.  That is true power and the very essence of compassion.For more check out the compassionate listening project.

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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