Did you know the Hindi word for soul is atma. Very close to the root of the word atmosphere. A possible meaning of atmosphere could include the sphere of energy emanating from or around a soul; the domain of the soul, “the sphere of the soul”.
As souls walking around in soul consciousness, we become very powerful and can create and uplift the atmospheres of our homes, our workplaces, our schools, and even when intentionally directed, our world!
In addition to that, when we consciously learn and practice certain tools of communication, our chances for creating harmony and happiness is multiplied! One wonderful tool that anyone can use, anywhere, anytime is aptly called: “active listening”.
Hmmm, you might be thinking what makes listening active vrs. passive? Be careful about reading into the active aspect of what active listening actually entails. Think about a time when you were really upset about something and in the process of sharing the tale of woe, your friend, spouse, coworker, whoever, the “listener” was, immediately started giving you ways/suggestions that might “help”/ “fix” the upset or even worse, imagine that they shut you down, subtly or not so subtly! How did you feel? Chances are that you didn’t feel valued, understood, or any better. You probably felt worse…shamed and misunderstood.
How do you feel when someone, anyone, listens with love and sincere interest? When another accepts our emotions for what they are, it has the effect of giving us permission to accept our own painful, sad, angry, or otherwise unwanted feelings. We then feel more empowered to process or resolve the difficulty. When emotions are accepted, they gradually decrease in intensity. Even teenagers and children can begin to calm down with one to four active-listening responses.
So what exactly is an active-listening “response”? Here are some examples that parents can use with their children to help them feel vaued:
Your child is happily hopping up and down saying “I can’t wait, I can’t wait. You say with a smile: “You’re really excited about going (or about whatever it is your child is anticipating at that time.”
Child smiling and snuggling their favorite stuffed animal on the couch…You say “You’re really feeling content” or “you love to snuggle with your bear”. (Sounds so easy, right?)
Here’s another example: Your child comes in the door crying and says: “Sara said I was fat”. You say “Your feelings got really hurt when she said that.”
Or your child is looking really angry and disappointed at the same time and says: “I’m never giong to play with Sammy again!!!” You say:.. “You’re really upset with Sammy right now.”
Or he or she looking really sad, says: “Ashley totally snubbed me today, just walked by and didn’t even say Hi~” You say: “It looks like that was hard and you’re feeling sad.”
HOW DOES BEING LISTENED TO ALLOW US TO ACCEPT AND “OWN” OUR EMOTIONS?
When someone listens to us with respect, a feeling of being respected, understood, and valued is created. Active listening requires the listener to reflect back the content and/or emotions which the other has just communicated, without sounding phony or like a parrot. Sometimes people, especially children and teens, feel that they are the only ones who ever felt in such an intense way. This creates shame, embarrasment, feeling different or even flawed. Expression of emotions that may have been held in, repressed, or in anyway hidden allows them to let go of some or all of the shame, especially when your understanding and acceptance affirms their emotions as a normal/natural response to a diffiuclt situation.
What a gift has been given through love and understanding. For when anyone rejects and struggles with their own emotions, it is the same as rejecting the self. As one understands and accepts the emotions, one is accepting the self. “This influx of positive energy in the mind and heart, and the relief of accepting the self, interferes with the downward spiral and loss of energy that occurs from negative thoughts and emotions.” (Tillman, Nurturing with Love and Wisdom, Disciplining with Peace and Respect p 59)
Let’s stop here and let this sink in enough to practice it. The next short article will be about avoiding “blockers and stoppers”. The things not to say when you wish to wave magic into the atmosphere through active listening,