The Art Of Listening, Tip 3: How To Get Where You Want To Go

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This is a post about the Hand in Hand Parenting tool of listening time. If you’re new to the concept check out my introductory post here

Something very common I’ve used in my listening time is to voice my lack of enthusiasm for playing with my daughter. Often, all those grown-up responsibilities can make me feel the complete opposite of playful and carefree. One time my listening partner gave me the direction to say in a very excited, enthusiastic voice, ”Come on R, lets play!”

Just the thought of saying these words led to all sorts of feelings coming up, and lots of uncomfortable laughter. As I kept complaining and moaning to her about making me say those words I released lots of emotion. Immediately after the listening time, I went to play with my daughter, and as if by magic, I was that playful, joyful parent!

This is what I call the ‘get where you’re going’ direction. Perhaps you want to be full of joy as you play Lego , or you want to be calm while your kids make a mess while baking. Often just saying the words as if you really were that calm, relaxed parent in a happy, light voice, can bring up any feelings to the contrary.

It’s like when we pretend we are where we want to be in the present moment our mind quickly dredges up all the feelings that don’t correspond to our imagine state. Cue a super fast away to clear up our minds of the old feelings that stand in our way.

I have also had great success using this direction with fatigue. I’ve become aware that as well as the general parental exhaustion that is so common I also use tiredness as a coping mechanism. So if I simply state where I want to go, ”I’m so full of energy!” standing up with my arms wide, and in a loud confident voice, I get a lot of feelings about wanting to curl up and hide away.

We may have patterns of being that relate to our own childhood. Ways in which we coped with the feelings we carried when we did not have a listener. Now we are adults we don’t need those old coping mechanisms anymore. We can use listening time to shed those feelings and become the very best version of ourselves.

This direction won’t just help you in your parenting. It can also help you transform your life. Do you want to go to a party, talk to everyone, and be full of confidence? Do you want to launch your own business, or give a successful job interview? Simple stating your goal as if you’ve already arrived can help you get there.

So where do you want to go in your parenting or your life? Just imagine being there in your listening time and you will discover the feelings that stand in your way. Share this post with your listening partner, and you can help each other on your journey.

Would you like regular tips to help you develop your listening skills? Sign up to follow my blog at the top right hand corner of this page. And if you missed them here’s Tip 1 and Tip 2

The Art Of Listening : Tip 1 – ‘oops!’

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This is the first of a new series of posts I’ll be sharing of tips on the art of listening. And this time it’s not about listening to our children, but listening to each other.

There’s one thing that makes Hand in Hand Parenting different to almost every other parenting approach out there, and it’s that we have a tool that is specifically designed to support parents, and it’s called listening time.

We use listening time because one of the reasons parenting is so hard is because of our own emotions. Listening time offers us a safe space to release our emotions so they don’t get in the way of us being the parent we want to be.

Before utilising these tips you’ll need to learn the basics of how listening time works, if you don’t know already. You can read my intro here, and if the idea appeals to you can learn more by reading Listen: By Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore, or my book Tears Heal. Hand in Hand Parenting also has a online self study course Building A Listening Partnership so you can really dive deep into all the skills you need to listen. You can also join the Hand in Hand Parent support group on facebook to find a listening partner.

Once you’ve got a regular listening partnership going you’ll be ready for some tips to hone your skills.

Here’s my first tip. I call it ‘oops!’ 

Say your partner is talking about something they feel embarrassed or ashamed about. Perhaps they shouted at their child, or said something to a friend that was misconstrued as being rude or insensitive. You’ll notice as they talk that they feel stuck in those uncomfortable feelings, and as the listener you can shine a light on their inner goodness and offer them a way out.  You know that they are doing their best as a friend/parent, and that they didn’t mean to hurt or offend anyone.

One way to do this, is to give them the direction to make light of their mistake. You can model for them a light, playful tone as you say ”oops! I just shouted at my child again,” and encourage them to repeat the sentence. Often even just the thought of saying those words may have them laughing away their shame and embarrassment.

Often that sense of shame and guilt that they have done something wrong comes from early childhood experiences. When we made mistakes as children parents would often punish us, and lecture us, and make us feel ashamed or guilty. There was little understanding that we made mistakes, when we were disconnected or were experiencing upset feelings. We carry this parental voice inside our minds so when we make mistakes as adults we end up beating ourselves up about them, instead of compassionately forgiving ourselves.

As a listener you can offer the compassion your partner needs to remember that they are good and release any feelings they have to the contrary. You can use the ‘oops’ direction as long as the laughter flows. You might also want to ask your partner if they’d like to talk about earlier experiences when they felt a similar kind of shame or embarrassment.

As you try out this direction, and the others I’ll be sharing in future posts, it’s important to remember not to use them automatically like a reflex, but to try to use your intuition, about what works and doesn’t work for your listening partner. You might find that for one person saying ‘oops’ will help them laugh away their troubles in fits of hysterics, but another person may be more on the edge of tears and not in the mood for laughter. Try it and if it doesn’t help your partner release their feelings, just keep listening, and allowing them to let their own natural healing process unfold.

I hope this post helps you develop your listening skills. And if you’d like to read more in this series just sign up to follow my blog at the top right hand corner of my blog. You might also like to check out my article, 10 Tips For Being A Good Listener. And if you’ve got any questions or comments about listening feel free to leave them below!