Paying Attention

One of the hardest things for me to remember is that I don’t really know what anyone else is thinking about. Sure, I talk with people, and I think I know what they mean or what is behind what they say, but do I really?

I get into the most trouble when I imagine that the other person shares my values and thinks like I do. Then when they do something that goes completely against my values, I am surprised! Why do I do that?

The best reason I can figure out is that we so much want to feel connected with others that we hear some of what they say and make assumptions about the rest so we can feel a sort of synergy with them. It probably goes back to a childhood sense of neediness and we carry it with us as we grow and keep reaching out to find where we belong.

I’m realizing more each day that I make up stories about what is going on around me to justify being right about people. But I have come to a new decision: I’m going to stop thinking I know anything about anyone else and do the best I can to stay present and aware and listen to myself. If I really listen to myself then I might be able to hear others differently (sounds paradoxical but it makes sense to me).

By listening to my inner voice first, maybe I’ll have a better chance of discerning what someone else is really saying–and looking for clues about what their values really are–so I can better understand what they want and what they are up to. And all this time I thought I was a good listener!

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