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Nowadays we are dredged up by the speed of information, by the demand to produce, make and be constantly updated and informed about everything. Our routine has become robotic. Our words, increasingly empty of emotion. Our feelings, affections and pains are buffered by the daily tasks, which must at all costs be performed with ultra perfection and to the maximum of our performance.

What has the actual act of relating turned into? Where did the patience and real willingness to listen to the other go?

A calm dialogue with a person where there is mutual understanding becomes increasingly scarce. When was the last time you talked to someone and that instead of competition between the lines - dispute for the title of the best argument - there was synchronicity and reciprocal interests?

Much admired is the gift of speech of those who are well articulate, innate communicative cults who do not get lost either in their thoughts or in their words when they speak. But many forget that listening is also an art.

Listening does not mean just listening or simply being in the body when the other is speaking. Knowing how to listen means considering, it means for a moment just trying to get out of your own skin in order to try to feel what the other feels and wants to communicate, and thus try to embrace the experience or anguish of others without judgment.

Why are cases of depression in all age groups and increasingly lonely people on the rise? 
Why are suicide and divorce rates in large cities rising out of control?

Think about that person you love, that friend you love so much, do you really listen to him? We often notice a sign of sadness or concern marking the faces of these people in our closest relationship, but are we really willing to listen to what the other person has to say about their pain? Why do we always take the time to criticize and judge but not to listen?

To help those who love it, it is not always necessary to have the best repertoire of words and interpretations about the problem exposed by the other, often it is enough to listen with affection, simply to understand. Sometimes a simple attempt at understanding expresses the companionship and support that sufferers so need.

Who has never had that feeling of trying to explain something to someone and this person interrupts you right in the middle of the flow of your emotions and thoughts with floods of your own opinions that do not make any sense with your theme? This behavior, in addition to not helping, gets in the way, forcing the subject to swallow the rest of his sentence and, consequently, his feelings that were ready to be put out and worked on. As bad as swallowing back what was about to come out is having to digest it all over again, this time feeling more alone. Who hasn't heard from someone (or who hasn't!) a resounding: "yes yes, I already know what you're going to say...I know you!" This type of phrase carries the meaning of giving up the other, removing the possibility of the other to become something new and evolve, leaving no room for change and new expressions of becoming.

While silence is frightening and uncomfortable for many, we often shy away from communicating not only out of fear of conflict, but also because we rarely feel that there is anyone really willing to listen. Relationships end and people move away because there is no listening or mutual acceptance, but successive criticisms and framing of the other in extremely narrow molds that are almost always corresponding to the very psychic limitations of those who do.

This trampling of words, characterizing the lack of availability to listen, plasters the other in a place where he may no longer belong, the other is disappointed and not feeling welcomed and understood, moves away. The action of exercising a healthy listening that I propose here on a day-to-day basis between family members and friends or close people is something that is not home therapy, but it can have a beneficial therapeutic effect on those who, at a given moment in their life, need to be involved in a network of protection and help, after all, all of us, under some circumstances, have found ourselves in moments of vulnerability and confusion.

The benefits of the exercise of listening are evident, these are the improvement of relationships in general, reducing misunderstandings in communication, because only through accurate listening can we see the real perspective of the other and consequently place ourselves in a more appropriate and fair way in the situation in question; but there is no way to reap good fruit in a garden where there has not been a good sowing, that is, listening is an exercise that must be practiced.

Pride, another factor that hinders listening, always throws the other at the level of the defective, inappropriate, complex, after all, the proud subject feels infallible, behaving like an armored tank that tactlessly passes over everything and everyone . For this individual who protects his insecurities with this shield called pride, having to listen is like torture, because listening means changing, granting, revealing, learning something new and giving yourself away.

It is a sign of strength whoever exposes his weaknesses and knows how to ask for help, cowardly is the one who trivializes, criticizes or represses the other's attempt to get closer. When we donate ourselves to truly listen to the other, we are contributing to reduce the discredit of others, the distance between people and the distrust so pervaded in our society traumatized by wars, violence and increasingly extreme individualism.

When we listen to the other we are not losing, on the contrary, we are gaining experience and wisdom, whoever listens more learns more and a lot! By listening, we learn to relate to health and thus practice something that will actually bring us happiness: the pleasure of exchange, generosity and doing good.

When was the last time you actually listened to someone?

"I don't try to know the answers, I try to understand the questions."
Confucius or Kung-Fu-Tze - Chinese Philosopher


Author: Andreia Hollenstein

CRP: 05/36484  

Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalysis

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