It’s time to reflect on 2018 and make plans for 2019! My new years resolution is to express love in deeds, not just in words and conversation. Let me explain.
I genuinely love to hear about the life experiences of other people. Human beings are so different and interesting. I love to interact with their stories by examining, analyzing, comparing, connecting and playing with their ideas. As an intellectual person, I love to process words, concepts, descriptions, metaphors, fantasies, and memories.
In interactions with other people, what I already do well is listen deeply. This happens naturally because the words spoken by others are intrinsically valuable to me
- whether I agree with them or not,
- whether I understand their point of view or not
- whether they cause pain inside me or not.
By intrinsically valuable, I mean that I’m listening because it’s pleasurable in itself, not because I’m looking to profit or gain wisdom. My motivation to listen comes from the joy of witnessing the mental and emotional life of another person.
The Value of your Story
Each one of us is unique, worthy and has a story. Each one of us is an expression of humanity – a breathing, experiencing, thoughtful being that will be gone in 100 years. When you listen to the story of another human being, you can take her story and transform it into something eternal. For when we listen to the story of another person’s experience, we allow it to touch our hearts and minds and influence the trajectory of our own life, if only in an infinitesimal way. This changes our own story that we tell others.
I think it’s beautiful how, through speech, each life gains eternal significance and meaning to humanity.
…But I’ve been Listening with Expectations
But my new years resolution involves a recent insight. I’ve been listening with expectations:
I expect people to share freely. I expect others to know their own memories, emotions, and thoughts.
My family experience growing up told me that people easily volunteer opinions and personal information, and that heartfelt sharing is always listened to and affirmed. I was lucky. Those experiences are not common. Many people have not practiced the words of expressing emotions, fear expressing themselves, do not understand their own thoughts, or feel shame. And even the simple question, do you want to be happy? can be difficult and confusing.
I forget that many others lack the words to share themselves. Instead, they share through touch, facial expressions and actions.
What will I do in 2019?
My new years resolution is to express love in deeds, not just in words and silence and conversation. I realize that I’ve strongly preferred words at the expense of other communication skills.
Sometimes we listen with our ears, and sometimes we need to listen with our eyes, bodies and hearts. Sometimes we speak using words, and sometimes we need to speak with our actions, gifts, touch, and mood.
For 2019, I look forward to having genuine human interactions by being open to non-verbal communication and valuing non-verbal conversations. I will learn not to be satisfied with merely expressing words of love – not everyone is used to hearing them and not everyone is able to hear them. 2019 is my year of Loving Communication.