Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and others is to listen.
With the world spinning so fast, it is really easy to get caught up in the twirl isn’t it? We all are busy, we all have lots on our plate, but so often many of us take on more than we can handle without even realizing it.
We know who we are….the person who volunteers for that “one time” event and gets sucked into heading a committee; the lady who offers to help out once in a while with the neighbors kids and finds herself with a house full on a regular basis. Maybe it isn’t so extreme for you, perhaps its just that you have become the person people call to “unload” their stress onto….whatever the situation, over time as things pile up, your burden will become overwhelming and sooner than you expect it will feel like you are carrying the world and all of its problems squarely on your shoulders. At least that’s how it is for me!
So what can we do to stop this chaos? How can we balance the helping and the stress. One way that I have found that works well is that we can learn to listen. We can learn to be a funnel, and let things flow through us instead of allowing it all to pile up. I’ve had to work on this myself. It’s so easy for me to tune out all the little reminders to slow down, relax, set boundaries etc. But I have learned that listening to that little voice inside is a skill that I needed to learn and practice. In fact I needed to make myself a priority.
Learning to identify and listen to our own needs can be the best tool in your bag, because when you learn to listen you realize you can suggest, you can offer, you can help, but you can’t FIX! And the FIXING place is where I get messed up. So often fixing is exactly what we feel that we “should” do in order to help someone else. We feel that we have to save the day and make someone else’s life easier. But that is so far from the truth.
When we stop listening to our own needs and feel that we have to FIX things for others, an amazing thing happens, we end up carrying their burdens ourselves. We end up stopping that person from learning what they need to so they can move forward, and we stop ourselves from doing the same. No one wins, no one feels good, and no one gets what they want or need.
When you are able to listen, you can truly identify the needs of others (including yourself), and in doing so actually be supportive in a way that is empowering. Fixing someone’s life isn’t the answer…it’s actually the catalyst to enabling, which is NEVER a good thing. But when you listen with an open and caring heart you will help that person find the answers they are looking for. You will support them in learning the lessons that show up in their lives, and you help them grow.
So the next time someone asks you to “help” or “fix” something, take the time to listen to what they really need, and support them in finding their own solutions. You may be surprised to find that your shoulders will feel just a little bit lighter!
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com