A Safe Place to Listen

A short time ago, on Facebook, I posted my opinion on mask-wearing.  That post took me HOURS to compose.  (It’s here, dated June 19.) The experience of speaking my truth was agonizing.  I felt I needed to convince.  I felt I needed to be ultra-logical.  I felt I needed to be über-articulate.  I poured hours into writing it.

There were plenty of comments and likes, and 7 people shared it.  Did I change anyone’s behavior?  I have no idea.

Using social media to speak your deep truth goes one direction.  You share your opinion about an urgent issue, you tell your story about what’s important to you… and then what?  Sure, you get emojis, and icons, and responses like “Yes! I agree!” or “No!  I’m righter than you!”  But then, on they scroll.

We also use social media to share our joy.  I see beautiful artwork, gorgeous homegrown flowers, adorable children and hilarious cat memes.  All the responses are coos of delight, merriment, congratulations and agreement.  Hearts everywhere.  Nobody disagrees with a dimpled darling.

Interesting discussions do happen, but they are rare birds.  It’s hard to be thoughtful when you’re in scroll-mode all of the time. 

Social media either magnifies agreement or exacerbates conflict.  But is anyone actually listening?

Listening is difficult

I’ve learned that when you truly listen, you are both a giver and a receiver.  You give attention, you receive perspective.  Every person has a story and every story has a truth. 

But it’s hard to listen with an open mind.  Really hard.  It’s safer to scroll.

When we focus our attention and truly listen to another person, it invites uncertainty.  We don’t know what to expect. Uncertainty is painful.   Eons of struggle for human survival conditioned us to fear uncertainty.    We need answers!  Our instincts tell us what we don’t know could kill us. 

Uncertainty makes us afraid.  We know what it’s like to be afraid.  Fear is easier because it’s known.  Fear is certainty.  We crave certainty.

There’s a lot of fear in our world right now.

Ancient answers

This has been our dilemma since the dawn of time.  Our ancient ancestors managed uncertainty by gathering around a fire to share their stories.  They knew, as we know on a deeper level, that everything is connected. 

All humans are connected.  Our actions have impact.  Always.

Technology may be different, but our humanity is not.  Our common link is the wish to be connected to others in a good way.  We need each other and the way to find that connection is to listen to each other.

We have a way to connect 

It’s called a talking circle.  In a talking circle, a talking piece is passed from person to person and we share our stories. 

Our brains are wired for story.  When we listen to someone telling a story, we learn their perspective, their history, their values.  When someone listens to our story, we are accepted and validated.  Our importance is recognized. 

Listening connects us. 

In a talking circle

  • Everyone is respected
  • Everyone gets a chance to talk without interruption
  • Everyone is equal in importance
  • You speak your truth by telling your stories
  • You are greeted as a whole person, including your emotional and spiritual aspects

If you would like to experience a talking circle, I am inviting you to join one with me.  My talking stick has made the rounds many times, first in person and more recently on Zoom. 

Listening opens us.  Listening will change everything.

Please join by messaging me through the contact form. The tab is at the top of this page. Circles are free for the rest of this summer.

Let’s listen and hear each other.


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