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Emptying self to listen

Posted by Simon Parke, 20 October 2017, 6.05am

There are many aides to listening.

One of them is the ability to self-empty…or de-create ourselves.

We can’t suddenly stop being who we are, of course; and sometimes, who we are is our genius.

But to listen to someone, to create that magic space, there has to be some de-creation of ourselves, some letting go of our story, because our life narrative is not theirs.

A simple example might be if we had an abusive father, then all father issues are liable to ring loud bells for us.

Without some self-emptying, we might then impose our narrative on those we listen to.

We dump our firm beliefs and unresolved issues on their front lawn; and can almost live our lives through them vicariously.

And inappropriately.

‘Did you take my advice?’

Self-emptying is concerned with keeping the listening space free of the pollution that is my own insecure narrative; which can be insistent and pushy.

Listening has been described as someone going into a house and describing the place room by room to you on the phone, while you stand outside.

You can’t see anything, you aren’t there, you can’t instruct; you can only ask questions.

But then one insightful question may well linger long after my ‘helpful’ advice is forgotten.

There are many aides to listening, and one is the process of self-emptying which frees the space for the other person’s story.

And notes the moments when reactions are triggered in us, and our own issues press for attention.

With a few deep breaths, I let go of my agenda; and free space for theirs.

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