SINCERE, ACTIVE LISTENING INVOLVES SHARING THE PAIN OF ANOTHER

This is the worst holiday season I’ve ever had in my life–and most definitely the worst Christmas I’ve ever had in my life.  One reason is that my parents have never been so indifferent, insensitive, and downright cruel to me as they are this holiday season.  And it is in their verbal and nonverbal communication with me that they are so indifferent, insensitive, and downright cruel.

I would email the following words to my parents, if it would do any good.  But it wouldn’t–they are completely incapable of honestly looking at themselves–they will go to their graves believing they were always right, and I was always wrong.

Still, the following words are arguably the best I’ve encountered on the topic of sincere, active listening–and we would all do well to heed them.

They were written by M. Scott Peck, and are included in his book, Further Along The Road Less Traveled.

“There is much solace we could take from Eliot’s example as we ourselves struggle along with our rocky path and our pain.  We need some comfort on our journey, but one of the things we don’t need is quick fixes.  I have seen a lot of people who literally murder each other with quick fixes in the name of healing.

“They do this for very self-centered reasons.  For example, let’s say that Rick is my friend and he is in pain.  Because he is my friend, that causes me pain, but I don’t like to feel pain.  So what I’d like to do is to heal Rick as quickly as I possibly can to get rid of my pain.  I’d like to give him some kind of easy answer like: ‘Oh, I’m sorry your mother died but don’t feel bad about it.  She’s gone to Heaven.’  Or: ‘Gee, I had that problem once and all you have to do is go running.’

“But more often than not, the most healing thing that we can do with someone who is in pain, rather than trying to get rid of that pain, is to sit there and be willing to share it.  We have to learn to hear and to bear other people’s pain.  That is all part of becoming more conscious.  And the more conscious we become, the more we see the games that other people play and their sins and manipulations, but we’re also more conscious of their burdens and their sorrows.

“As we grow spiritually, we can take on more and more of other people’s pain, and then the most amazing thing happens.  The more pain you are willing to take on, the more joy you will also begin to feel.  And this is truly good news of what makes the journey ultimately so worthwhile.”

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