21 August 2015

The Balance Between Sharing & Listening

If you've ever been to Cafe Gratitude, you know that they ask a question of the day when they take your order. It's meant to open up the table to positive discussion and offer some clean food for thought. Last week, when I stopped in for a tea and a warm environment for some evening reading, I was posed with the question of the day. But because I was alone and my server was quite busy, I was left to have a dialog with myself about it. 

"What are you learning?"

The question was short and simple, but also felt loaded. The ever-student, always-improving spirit in me reared at the question, so eager to pour out all of the learnings I had been collecting over the past few weeks. I think I have may have given myself a shock of sensory overload at the thought of untangling the answer!

I realize now, a week later, that the clearest learning was in the reaction to the question itself. I am always eager to share. It does not take much to warm me to the point of opening up with others (hence this blog and its name). But I realized that I can be overly open to others, and that I could benefit from being more selective with whom and when I share my energy. 

I am learning that I harness a lot of a love, light, and power. We ALL do - it's just a matter of discovering the tools to plug into them. I have a magnetic quality about me. And people can see and feel it. Others want to feel embraced by the enthusiasm and love they feel radiating from me. And I am happy to give, and I do so often. It's an integral part of what makes me feel happy and connected to my human experience. But a few gems of wisdom related to this willingness to give and open have made themselves known to me, and I think they will speak to you too:

1.  I may choose to share my energy and my story, but I must not give away my power. Given the alluring quality of an open spirit, one must actively decide whom to allow into one's sphere. It's not something I am required or obligated to share with everyone, despite how much my overly-giving spirit may feel this way. And given how easy it is for me to open up, I must continuously and clearly establish boundaries. Otherwise, I risk springing a leak in my tank or compromising my natural defense mechanisms, at which point I will quickly deplete and open myself to harm. What I mean is that when we are overly giving of our time, wisdom, and spirit - particularly to the wrong kinds of activities and people - we will wilt and be less able to 1) tap into our inner magic and 2) protect ourselves from negative energies. I have already experienced what this feels like, and I see how I suffer when I don't have enough energy to give myself and the people that do matter.

Can you get honest with yourself about where you are leaking? What arenas or people in your life are you surrendering your power, your time, and your life force to? Where are you happy to share, and what areas could you reel back in your spirit to nourish the more important parts of your life? And, to be clear, the areas that are most important are the people and things that bring you JOY. If you don't have enough time or energy to invest in the humans, hobbies, and experiences that bring you joy, you're due for some reallocating of life force resources. Because if not to feel joy, why are we here?
So - to recap - when I am more conscious in delegating my energy and sharing, I have more left to invest in myself and the things that bring me joy. But equally as important is the reality that in this grounded state, I am more privy to outside inputs. It's easy to see what is clean, divine energy, and what is negative, untrue energy when you are practicing conscious awareness of how you show up and open up in the world. I'm noticing that by tempering my need to share so wildly and freely, I am more available to TAKE IN new information, learn others' stories, and hear whispers from the Universe. I see that my willingness to share often prevents me from hearing others and noticing things outside of my own story and journey. When I choose to sit in the silence or in the presence of others sharing, it is then, and only then, that I can LISTEN. 

2.  I can actively choose to not share so immediately (or at all), and to instead sit comfortably on the receiving end. Just as there is power and beauty in giving, there is a reciprocal amount in receiving and enjoying that of others. How so? I think people over-share for two reasons: either 1) to validate themselves (asking for love) or 2) to try to make the recipient feel comfortable enough to open up in return (an attempt to give love). Unfortunately, the latter, more noble intention usually achieves the opposite of the desired result. When someone blasts you with THEIR experiences and THEIR opinions and THEIR stories, do you feel encouraged to share, or overwhelmed and inferior? I'm finding that genuinely holding space for people, listening without interruption, and giving them the time they need slowly unfurl is the best way to form that desired, deeper relationship. (If you are more prone the the first reason for over-sharing, you must get clear on the reality that NO ONE can validate you, and that you hold the power to love and accept yourself in every single minute.) The organic give and take of conversation and connection facilitates our feeling comfortable with each other and helps to prevent misunderstanding and projecting. Can you practice listening - really hearing someone - without interjection? Yes, you may have had a similar experience and what they are sharing may land with you in a significant way. But wait for the appropriate time to share in return. Let someone else have the floor, and see what wisdom you can glean from them. Whether to empathize with someone else, to gain a new insight, or simply to quiet our own need to share, listening is often where the most potent learnings reside.

This week, I encourage us to practice listening more. Even if you tend to not share verbally, but have an internal conversation with yourself as you observe people and the world -- see if you can actively listen instead of judge or react. Our opinions and ideas are not made invalid by waiting for the right time and the right outlet through which to share them. For myself, I want people in my life and the Universe to have a clear channel through which to share and illuminate learnings for myself. And I recognize that I won't be able to receive them if I'm always outputting. 

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Since I've listened to this song probably 87 times in the past couple of days, I thought I should share the speaker love with all of you.

Bros by Wolf Alice

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