The Gift of Being Heard
We sat on the front porch of the house as the quiet hours of morning made their transition into midday. The time when the heat begins to rise, and we have to swat the mosquitoes away. I had followed my son outside after realizing he had quietly withdrawn and exited, his emotions at that moment feeling larger than his ability to process or handle.
There was a whirlwind of outdoor activity around us. A guy was smoking outside a small business next door. Cars were buzzing to and fro on our street. Two people were standing on the sidewalk saying goodbyes as they got into separate vehicles.
Even with life happening all around us, it felt like it was just him and I sitting there unpacking big emotions. Nothing mattered more to me at the time than understanding what was on his heart. And nothing mattered more to him than wanting me to hear about it.
It’s much easier to speak up and reveal the vulnerable stuff in our hearts when we have the attention of someone who is listening. Not just hearing in the sense of perceiving sound; the way I can hear the garbage truck outside my house or my dog snoring softly. The type hearing that happens when I consciously choose to concentrate on the other person's words and emotions.
It’s the person who puts their elbows on the table and leans in to absorb my words as I speak. They turn their phone over and opt not to check it for a moment. They don’t interrupt me with their own thoughts and opinions until I am done speaking.
It seems they’ve really mastered the art of listening because they can discern when to give space to what I am saying by not offering the “right” response. How much easier it is for me to speak up in these moments.
Somewhere along the way there had been the realization and belief pouring into my subconscious that my voice didn’t matter. That no one wanted to hear what I had to say. When I spoke up and someone spoke over me, I believed it was because what I was saying didn’t have value, and not because of someone else’s inability to listen.
So without conscious intention on my part, I began to remain silent, blaming it on my introverted tendencies. This felt more comfortable than facing the perceived rejection of not being heard.