Friday, September 21, 2012

Pod Club: Listen Up

No Expectaions: Podcast Review

"Expectations are premeditated resentment", Johanna Harper says near the end of this podcast. I began listening to this episode of Against The Stream with the expectation i'd be hearing about not having any..expectations that is. This phrase was proven as I came to the realization that what the message here had more to do with truly listening to people around us. Johanna begins with a touching story that illustrated how "great moments catch us unaware". The idea that we get caught up looking for the next big, important or exciting moment rang true. I can spend so much time planning for the next adventure, I forget to see the adventure in today. She follows this story with another about a woman who didn't understand why she was feeling alienated and treated poorly by those around her, but all the while was wearing a hat with the words "Fuck You" on it. Another reminder that people treat us how we expect to be treated. We may walk around with the notion that the world is mean and people don't like us and then guess what? That's how we find ourselves treated.

After the short stories, I really feel like the talk centered around how we listen to others. This is where I felt the most in tune with what Ms. Harper was saying. She brought up how ultimately we all want to feel the connection that comes from being truly heard by another. Why do we push people away when we want this connection? Many reasons were brought up by her and those in the crowd. A couple that stood out to me were that we may be prejudging people or caught up with our own agenda. We don't trust them or perhaps we are simply afraid of what they have to say.  How can we truly hear what someone is saying if we've already placed judgment on them? The term "Jumper Inner" was used to describe people who get so revved up about the topic that they jump in before the speaker is even through...oh my... I am SO guilty of this! It's something I've been working on and still catch myself doing over and over and over (to those of you who's words have been trampled by my jump, i'm sorry for not letting you finish).

Frustration tends to be the common result of not feeling heard, not being understood and validated. Another idea that turned on a little lightbulb in my brain was that when we sense another person isn't listening to us, intimacy is stopped. So many times in my life I've stopped talking to someone I really care about because I don't feel like they care to hear what I have to say. I feel like those walls can be broken down but it might take time.  In any relationship (romantic, familial, platonic) we achieve intimacy through letting the other person tell their story and knowing they, in turn, are witness to ours. No judgments. No expectations. No fear or mistrust.

A woman approached me yesterday as I cooled off after my hike. I was under a tree, listening to the breeze and working on a crossword. If I could have hung a "do not disturb" sign over my blanket I would have.  I'd already noticed her rifling through the public garbage for cans and bottles and popping them into her little cart. I heard her before I saw her "Excuse me? Hello?". I was annoyed. Immediately. Judgment had been made minutes ago based on her actions and appearance alone. "Do you know what those bones over there are from?" she asked in a small, almost childlike voice.  I told her that I didn't know and didn't particularly want to go look at them with her as she requested. She seemed worried and wouldn't leave me alone so I put on my flip flops and walked with her to the bones in question. Our conversation was basically a discussion of what animal it could have been and that we sure hoped it wasn't a person's beloved pet (the bones were cat size).  She became visibly calm and just said "We should warn people to watch out for their pets". I concurred and told her that I would be sure to warn everyone I saw and that she could do that too.  She smiled and thanked me and went back to methodically picking through trash.  As I sat back down, all I could think about was how she just wanted to be heard, to have her worry validated by another human. The universe has sneaky ways of teaching lessons and this is one I need to learn.

Did anyone else listen? Any thoughts? Please comment and don't forget to check out what Jill had to say!   Just Jill

1 comment:

  1. My words have never felt trampled on by your're a fantastic listener and talker. Yay podcast club!