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Loneliness and Listening

Ah loneliness, it's been quite sometime since we've spend time together. I've tried to keep you at bay. I've kept myself busy. I haven't answered when you come calling. Yet, somehow, you've managed to slip into my life again. I can feel your cool fingers interlaced with mine as I walk throughout my day. I'm glad you've come this time though. I was beginning to think I was truly alone in the world...
I hear people say that they are tired of being lonely/alone. I used to seek fast paced, intense relationships in order to stop feeling so alone. I don't do this anymore. Instead, when I begin to feel lonely, I take it as a reminder to continue improving on myself. I write, I start a new skill or practice an old one. I go out and learn something. I travel to a new place or revisit a favorite. I cook something new. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Loneliness is not so bad, it reminds us that we need other people in our lives sometimes. As a traveler, I forget to reconnect with people while I'm on the road. It's a nudge to change something in my life, so I usually call a family member or friend and truly listen to how their life is going.

Listening! How therapeutic it is to listen to others, well that is if you truly know HOW to listen. I cannot stand when I'm talking to someone and I can tell they are hearing me, but they are not LISTENING to me. They are too busy formulating a response in their head while I'm talking!
I learned a very effective way to listen to people, I became quicker with it as I practiced. I listen to the person, take in everything they are saying WITHOUT THINKING MY OWN THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT. It's harder than it sounds, trust me. I take a few seconds to then process what they've said, and THEN I formulate a response. I was surprised at how much better I was in talking with people when I did this. Does it take a little more brain power? Yup. This way, I have not only paid the person my full, complete attention (which is what they probably needed in the first place, not my advice) but I gave it time to process in my own mind AFTER they had their time to talk, not during it. It would be like talking out loud as they are talking. It sounds simple and you're probably thinking "I do this any ways" but I promise if you try it, you'll notice a difference. It's the difference between breathing automatically and doing breathing relaxation exercises. One is done without your conscious thought process so you can you survive while the other has an intent and purpose behind it. Do you want to simply survive in relationships or do you want to thrive in them with intent and purpose?

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