Growing up my dad would often say: “Children should be seen and not heard.” Usually it was when he was grumpy, upset, or angry, but it made a mark on me. I think for many, many years I found it hard to speak up and say what was on my mind. I think in my head, I had replaced “children” with “women.” I saw many boys and men speak their minds and they were listened to, but when I would try to speak up, I felt timid and like my ideas would not be meaningful or have value. So I kept quiet.
Jump from childhood to the middle of college. I was a Sociology major, taking classes on race, class, and gender. I was learning I had a voice. I had shaved my head, I was starting to talk, and it was as though a pipe had burst. I had found my voice. It had only taken me 10-15 years!! I have vowed (thank you Chris for going along with me on this one) that my children will be heard. I will watch that if I have a little girl, that I will hear her just as if I have a little boy. I want my children to be proud of what they have to say, to be bold, and to feel that even if others disagree, that they should still speak their mind.
Sometimes we have those days when we do not feel heard or understood by others. One of my pet peeves is when you are talking to someone and you can tell they are not listening. So when I read the Daily Om from May 24, 2012 I appreciated thinking about the relationships in my life where I feel listened to and understood (unlike as a kid). I specifically like this line:
“When we are in a relationship where we feel listened to and understood, we count ourselves lucky because we know how rare that experience is.”
As I mentioned earlier, it took me many years to be able to stand up for myself and communicate to those close to me how important their presence of active listening meant to me. In my mind, active listening and communication is a form of love. It says I care enough about you that I will be present in this moment and listen to what you have to say and hear what you might need right now.
Fast forward to 2012. I now speak my mind freely, at times possibly too freely. I know I have a voice. I know it matters. I know it should be heard. Is there someone in your life you are not listening to? Someone that needs so earnestly to be heard? Have you taken the time out to listen to them?
A good reminder for us all.