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Often, we are asked to listen and we feel compelled to give advice or talk about our own problems. My best friend, daughter, confidant sent me the following poem a few years ago when she was in a psychology class for nursing. The instructor made copies for each student to have and of course she knew I would love it or perhaps she was trying to tell me something. I am sharing because it had a profound impact on how I listen.


When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I have asked.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel this way, you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me. Strange as that may seem.

Listen: All that I ask you to do is listen. Not talk or do- just hear me.

            When you do something for me than I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy. But when you accept as a simple fact, that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and get about this business of understanding what’s behind them.

So please listen and just hear me, and, if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn and I’ll listen to you.  ~ Anonymous

It can be difficult to be quiet and simply listen. We often feel the need to speak even if we have nothing to say. Some people are uncomfortable in silence and yet this can be a moment of awakening to just be with one another and hold space for whatever is going on in that person’s life.

As a mother, I am constantly giving advice and instructions. Make your bed, do your laundry, clean your room, be nice to everyone you meet, be careful, moderation please, etc. My role as a parent is to provide a strong foundation for my children to become responsible, independent adults. Spoiling them with lots of love but teaching them to walk the walk. Always do the right thing even when no one is looking and try not to be a follower, be a leader. Be kind, compassionate and generous. Learn to be a good listener.

My family is a quiet group. We make time to listen to one another and if there is nothing to say we have learned to simply be present with one another. Cell phones still remain to be a challenge, but we are all trying to turn it off.  No media, no social network, no noise. Time spent together with no distractions is a gift. Taking vacations as a family is precious and hopefully will happen in the future. We are now all adults learning to respectfully listen to one another. We don’t truly know what the future will bring so we’re living well in this moment. The quieter you become, the more you will hear.

This column was written in 2019.  In the past year I am thinking we all became better listeners. Here’s to living well once again.

By Helen Kilgallen


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