About two years ago I started noticing that no one seemed to be listening to me, or at least not really hearing me. I mean like even close family, and friends. It got to a point that I was thinking multiple times a day “I don't know why I even bother to talk, text, or post anything!”
For example of online: Every time I post multiple pictures of one painting or bottle in a social media post I say this is the same piece in every picture just from different angles. Then pretty much every single time at least one person will say 'those are beautiful' or 'I love them all'! I just think “why did I even bother taking the time to write it all out when people don't even read it?”
In my personal life I would remember the actual conversation of telling someone something, but they'd be like 'you never told me'. Or I'll take the time to text something out with all the details. Then the person will text back a question that they wouldn't have to ask if they had actually read the text I sent. I'm sure y'all know the types of things I'm talking about because no one seems to listen or read anymore.
As I got more and more frustrated with this happening I started calling people out on it. I'd say something like “It's like NOBODY listens to me anymore! I don't know why I waist my breath talking anymore?!” The first person I said it too said they felt the same way. I thought hmmm sure they do! Then the next person I said it to had the same response that they also felt like no one listened to them either. So I kept saying it to people more and more just out of curiosity to see what they would say. Everyone that I talked to about this said that they too felt unheard. It seems that not many people are feeling heard lately.
My love and curiosity of the way people think and interact in this world wouldn't let me just let this go. I had to investigate further! I know from my psychology and mental health background that most people listen to respond rather than to understand. So I decided to start paying attention to how people respond when I say something.
My poor immediate family is always where I start! I don't know if my kids realize it yet (I guess if they actually read this they will now lol), but my husband has always known he's my life long case study! I would pay attention to their responses when I was talking to them, and see if they replied so quick that they couldn't have thought of the response between my last word and their first word? Did they redirect the subject to themselves, like what similar thing they experienced? Did they or did they not answer the question? Could I tell from their response that they had actually heard and processed what I was saying? These are the type of things I looked for to see if they were listening to respond, or listening to actually hear and understand.
When it was clear that all of my immediate family mostly listened to respond I decided to broadened my field of unknowing participants, and see if this trend was with others as well. So I started paying attention to the responses of my extended family, friends and just people I would come across in my life. I did this for months and months. To be honest, I do it all the time now. It kinda became a habit!
What I noticed is that most people were indeed listening to respond most of the time! This really irritated me! I pride myself on being a great listener. I've been complimented on being a good listener many times in my life. However, that was for listening when people needed to talk about their life issues and such. I started wondering if I was always a good listener in general? So I did the same test on myself. I started paying attention to how I was responding to people in general conversation. I was horrified to realize that I too was listening to respond a good amount of the time!
I was embarrassed that I didn't even realize I was doing it. Most people don't realize they are doing it. It's a fast pace world we live in now a days. Everything seems to need to be immediately even our responses. The world expects it in general, and it's just become part of being human in most of the world today. The big rush! I'm so glad that I don't generally have to plug into that life. I love my quiet slow country hippie life!
So why isn't anyone listening to anyone anymore? Are we all just a bunch of selfish narcissistic jerks that can't even be bothered to listen to even our family and friends anymore? Well, in my humble opinion the answer is both yes and no.
I say yes because in general we are all kinda becoming like a bunch of selfish narcissistic jerks in the world today. There is so much entitlement, selfishness, impatience, lack of self-reflection, greed, and lack of empathy in today's culture. We are more concerned about how what someone is saying effects us personally, or what it is that we want to say that we don't even consider really listening completely to what they are saying. We just catch the basics of what they are saying and respond with what we think they want to hear, or what we really would rather say or turn the conversation to. This makes the conversation quicker and/or more interesting for us, but is actually rude and disrespectful to the person we're suppose to be listening to. We all want to be heard, but yet we all pretty much don't really fully listen at least some of the time.
I say no because of course we're not all really selfish narcissistic jerks! Don't get me wrong, there are those type people in the world, and our lives. I'm pretty sure that we've all had or still have at least one narcissistic personality type in our lives at one point or another. Even though there may be a narcissistic personality type person in your life that isn't listening to you because they are just selfish and don't care, they are the extreme example. Most people don't even realize they aren't listening. They aren't doing it to be rude or because they just don't care. They simply are not aware of what they are doing. After all, we each usually have a lot of things going on in our lives and minds at one time. We do sometimes have a need for speed in situations. Then over time it just becomes a bad habit.
So what can we do about it? How to make people start listening? Well we can't make anyone besides ourselves change. You just can't no matter how much you want to! So I say start with you. That's what I did. I started paying attention to my own thoughts while I am listening to people. If I find myself thinking about anything besides what they are saying I mentally stop myself and refocus on their words. I am purposefully aware of my listening. Well, most of the time. I am human and still don't always listen as good as I should. The most important step to change is admitting you need to change. Then you just keep working towards the change you want in yourself.
We can't make people just start listening, but we can simply ask them too. Let's say you need to have a serious conversation with someone, but you know that they tend to listen to respond. When you start the conversation you just let them know that it's really important to you that they hear what you are saying. That you would appreciate if they would just listen to hear, and not to respond. Even going as far as to explain that you know that most folks including yourself listen to respond, but that you really need them to hear you this time. Of course you say all this in your own words, and in a way that you feel like they will most likely respond the best to.
If you need to work on speaking up for yourself, and speaking your truth then you should really work on healing and balancing your throat chakra. This is one of my own issues so I know the struggle is real. You can use blue crystals and stones to help you to heal and balance your throat chakra. My personal favorites are Blue Kyanite, Labradorite, Turquoise, Sodalite, Celestite, and Lapis Lazuli. I wear these crystals, keep them in my space, and I use them to aid in my meditations. I have found crystals to be a great tool along with meditation, prayer, yoga, grounding, researching, learning, and self reflection for my personal healing and life journey.
The best way to help with this issue in our society is by bringing awareness to the problem. You don't have to sit down and lecture anyone though. Just try talking about it in general conversations with your family, friends, and coworkers. You could say something like 'I read this really awesome blog the other day on The New Hippie Shop's page about listening, and how we listen to respond more than to understand. What do y'all think?' This type of converstation will get the topic on their minds, and get everyone thinking and talking about it. Then we'll all be more aware of it when we do it. Hopefully then we can each change the way we listen personally.
I have found that change starts with ourselves. So start by changing the way you listen. Be the change you want to see in the world. I'm hoping that by my changing the way I listen and respond that the people I interact with will learn by example. I also bring it up in conversations to bring awareness to the problem.
Even if they don't change the way they listen my change won't be for nothing. I want to be a positive source of light and love in the peoples lives that cross paths with mine. What a wonderful way to show love, by really listening and paying attention to what people have to say and truly getting to know their inner selves. Be the light and love that others need, and the light and love you need will find you.