that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another
person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most
important thing we ever give each other is our attention.
And especially if it's given from the heart. When people
are talking, there's no need to do anything but receive
them. Just take them in. Listen to what they're
saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is
even more important than understanding it. Most of us
don't value ourselves or our love enough to know this. It
has taken me a long time to believe in the power of simply
saying, "I'm so sorry," when someone is in pain.
And meaning it.
One of my
patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people
often interrupted her to tell her that they once had something
just like that happen to them. Subtly her pain became a
story about themselves. Eventually she stopped talking to
most people. It was just too lonely. We
connect through listening. When we interrupt what someone
is saying to let them know that we understand, we move the focus
of attention to ourselves. When we listen, they know we
care. Many people with cancer talk about the relief of
having someone just listen.
even learned to respond to someone crying by just
listening. In the old days I used to reach for the
tissues, until I realized that passing a person a tissue may be
just another way to shut them down, to take them out of their
experience of sadness and grief. Now I just listen.
When they have cried all they need to cry, they find me there