We all know there is a difference between hearing and listening. We can hear a thing many times before we understand what is being said. When we actually listen, we hear on a different level. I believe that people who write on a regular basis, are better listeners, at least that has been my experience. One of the reasons I began writing was because I had a desire to be heard, really listened to. The biggest surprise in that, was that I actually began to hear what I myself was saying. The main purpose of this blog is to encourage others to do the same, and for the same reason.
As a consequence of that, I take time to visit different blogs and read them. I know that my desire to be heard is far from unique. Anyone who writes for whatever reason, shares that same desire on some level. So, I have a tendency to leave comments to let the individual know I heard what was said. And yes, I go back to see if they heard me, and am glad when that is the reality. It is also why I encourage people who keep a journal to go back and read what they have written. Because if one doesn’t truly listen, one may never learn, or understand, what is being said, especially by ones own person.
I’ve already discussed how easy it is to dismiss or ignore the thoughts in our own heads. That can readily extend to the words we write. If we are in the habit of not hearing our own words when they are spoken, we may go through the motions of putting them on paper and not be paying attention. Our thrust may be toward being heard, more so than to listen. There must be a balance in all things. A giving and receiving, and nowhere is that more important than with our self. One of the simplest exercises to do to discover just how little, or how much balance, we own in that arena, is to write ten times, “I am a writer”, on a piece of paper. Write it with a pen, preferably a pen with dark ink in it. And while you are doing that little exercise, listen to what is going on in your head. Do it right now, I’m more than willing to wait.
Did you hear the Censor kick in? “How dare you say that sort of thing?” Maybe the Editor, or the Lady With White Gloves, come to inspect the job you are doing? “You might want to put a number in front of each of those statements so you don’t lose count,” or, “You didn’t cross the T in the word writer, and your lines aren’t particularly straight, or very readable.” Maybe the Drill Sargeant, “Listen buster, she said ten times, why are you just sitting there, move it, move it!” Mommy Dearest, “Oh honey, this is all sort of silly don’t you think? Why frustrate yourself so, why not go take a nice nap and when you get up, you’ll feel so much better and we can go shopping. There’s this darling little blue dress…” How about the Older Brother, or Sister, “Listen, you idiot, you can’t be a writer, you don’t have anything worthwhile saying, nothing anyone would want to hear, anyway.” And so on, and so forth.
I have done this exercise many times, and never once have I been able to complete all ten statements without hearing the voice/s of resistance rise up, trying to stop me from completing it. It’s such a simple little exercise, but it gets really difficult, real fast, even for those of us who have been writing for years. That repetitive action of repeating those words, again and again, is a lot like carving it in stone, isn’t it? Making some sort of life-long commitment that can’t be walked away from, or ignored. It’s a statement of fact, no question about it, and it doesn’t leave room for questions. Lots of room for resistance, though, which often comes in the form of questions.
At the beginning of this article, I spoke of the difference between hearing and listening. We can choose to do both at any time. Be aware, however, that the choice of either one or the other, is definitely a choice. If we only hear the drone of the words, the tone of the voice, we are apt to never really get the message. If we make an effort to listen to the words, what they are saying, the message can be interpreted far more easily and with a lot less time. Especially when that message is coming from inside of you. It might make you cry or laugh, hug yourself in glee, or throw your hands in the air with total exasperation, but it can and will change whatever step you are in the process of taking. It will alter the barometer of the feelings with which you proceed, thereby altering any and all outcomes.
How much do you listen to those varied voices in your head? Are they so familiar that you don’t even hear the words anymore? Just shrug your shoulders, let the Pessimist tell you, “that’s just how it is, and its not worth doing anything about, cause things are never going to change anyway?” Maybe it’s time to cultivate some new ones. How about the Staunch Supporter, “Hey, you are doing just fine, I really love what you are saying,” or that Best Friend, “Wow, that was fun, wasn’t it? When can we do it again?” Maybe a bit of the Wild Child, “If you say it this way, you’ll have em running, lol,” or Little Brother or Sister, “ahhh, you know that he can’t say anything without using way too many words and I like your stuff way better.” I think those all sound somewhat like that Best Rainy Day Friend we all need to sit alongside of us, that one who leans in, doesn’t ask, “What did you say?” But, says instead, “Boy, I hear you on that one. What you wanna do about it, and when do we start?”