“When listening to another person, don’t just listen with your mind; listen with your whole body. You are giving the other person space—space to be. It is the most precious gift you can give.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
When I read this for the first time, it was just words on a page, but this morning, I felt it.
I was on the phone with someone and, after talking for a few minutes, I was interrupted. They told me, “I have to go, but it sounds like you’re doing well and you’ve thought things through. Everything will be alright. Call you later, love you!”
I know that filler. It’s what you say when your thoughts are somewhere else and you are trying to get rid of the call. I don’t think this person was meaning it in a rude way, but I shut down. My eyes started to fill, and I quickly said, “Love you, bye!” in a numb, reactive kind of way.
We want to share our lives with the ones we care for. Sometimes, we just want to talk and be heard. That’s the beauty of soul connections. It makes us feel special and like someone values us. In a world with billions of people, we matter. And when we know that they’re not paying attention to us, it can make us feel like sh*t.
I felt robbed of something.
Even though I was sitting in a cafe, I couldn’t stop the tears that fell down my cheeks. My dirty fingers quickly wiped them away before anyone else could notice. “Feel it,” I kept telling myself. “Let it come, and let it go.”
So, I sat there for a few minutes, reading my book and finishing my tea. Then, I hopped up, walked over to my bike and started heading home.
That Eckhart Tolle quote came up for me again: “When listening to another person, don’t just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body. You are giving the other person space—space to be. It is the most precious gift you can give.”
I started thinking about how hurt and upset I was over how someone didn’t give me the attention I needed in a particular moment. But then I turned in toward myself. Do I give other people that same attention? Or am I also quick to interrupt, change the subject or just leave whenever I feel done with a conversation?
We see in others a reflection of ourselves. It’s easy to notice the flaws in other people and get upset with how they’re treating us, but the real challenge happens when we look at ourselves.
Memories of times I had been abrupt in conversations because I didn’t want to be left feeling uncomfortable began flooding my mind. I remembered one time, specifically, when I had talked on and on about my situation, but then when my friend started talking, I suddenly had something more important to do and take care of.
With this thought fresh on my mind, I made it back to the hostel where I was staying and began chatting with the some of the other girls while I was packing my bags. I noticed that I was trying to multi-task: finishing packing my bags while at the same time having a conversation. But I couldn’t give both my full attention! I was trying to solve the Tetris puzzle of my bags while faintly hearing words in the background. I was literally doing the same damn thing that upset me this morning.
So I stopped packing. I looked up into the eyes of the girl who was talking, and listened to the rest of what she was telling me.
We owe it to others to be there for them. Not only is it rude and disrespectful to not pay full attention to other people, which I think is mostly done unconsciously, but it’s also a bit sad. When we aren’t there in the conversation or the moment, we’re missing out on getting to know someone’s story. We’re missing out on sharing our lives and building connection with another human. We are also not being our real selves because we’re not actually there.
This is true in all areas of our lives. When we open space, we create a safe place where others feel comfortable to be themselves. We might not even realize it, but we’re also attracting that same comforting energy, that same vibe, into our lives. And when someone can be honest and genuine and not feel like they have their guard up around their true self, it’s like a breath of fresh air.
Author: Tatiana Hall
Image: Flickr/Bruna Schenkel
Editor: Callie Rushton