Alan Alda Quote

” Listening does not take place unless you are willing to be changed.  Otherwise, you are just waiting for an opening to talk.”  –Alan Alda
The most interesting thing about this statement from Alan Alda is that you won’t ever understand the quote until you truly know what it means to listen.  Often times, I would think that I was listening to what others had to say, but in essence, I was waiting to interject my reply.  Sometimes, I wouldn’t even wait, but interrupt the other person to say what I thought was more important, or more correct, than their perception.  At best, I was only hearing the words coming out of their mouth, but really it was more like half hearing.

The art of listening requires you to be present and focused.  You can’t have your foot half in the conversation with the person you are talking with and half in your head about what you need to pick up from the grocery store for dinner that evening.  Listening takes practice and skill to shut out the chatter in your own head and hone in on what the other person is saying.  

Not only does this apply to when you want to truly listen to others, but also to your own heart.  It is essential to quiet the mind in order to hear what the heart has to say.  In my experience, the heart generally speaks barely above a whisper.  Fear, on the other hand, screams, shouts, bangs pots and pans at all hours of the night, plays the “you’re not good enough” song on repeat, and stomps around, kicking in the walls of my sanity in the wee hours of the morning.  

Ruiz would say this equates to the dream of that planet uses gossip to instill this fear in us from the time we are very young.  We are taught not to trust the practice of being still and quiet enough to listen…we are not taught to love in a meaningful way.  The way that you can genuinely show someone that you care for them, or the way to care for yourself, is to listen.  To often we allow fear and insecurity to interrupt our personal need for self-care and we hold so tightly to our own egos so long that we don’t stop talking long enough to listen to what our loved ones need.  

By taking time to listen to another’s needs, instead of thinking you know better than they what they might need, you will create a deeper connection with your loved ones.  You will be able to choose your words more wisely to say what needs to be said that will make them feel supported and loved, rather than judged and dismissed quickly because we have to get onto our next task.

**CHALLENGE** Practice the art of active listening.  This week, while having a conversation with a loved one (or someone you constantly disagree with is even better), see if you can listen and repeat back three full sentences from that conversation.  That’s it.  No additional commentary, no opinion of your own, no judgement of theirs.