When was the last time you opened up to someone about the most sacred moments from your past in an uninterrupted, non-judgemental setting filled with intent listening and empathy?
For me, it was yesterday.
A work-related call with a good friend yesterday turned into a 6-hour conversation of me opening up about the deepest (and in some way darkest) moments from my past.
After it ended, I felt emotionally carved out, in a good way. It was a fitting end to the worst year of my life (more on that in another article).
When I woke up today, I wanted to pen down some of my thoughts on why this experience was so deeply cathartic.
Let’s take part in a short experiment.
Close your right eye with your right hand and focus your left eye on the black circle above. Slowly move closer to the screen and stop when the magic happens.
There is a certain distance at which the “+” will completely disappear from your view, although it’s right in front of you.
This is your neurological and literal blind spot.
Yesterday, I learned about my emotional blind spots.
Three hours into my sharing experiences from the past, he told me something I hadn’t heard before.
“You are too hard on yourself. You are taking too much responsibility for other people’s actions and not being compassionate enough to your past self.”
Without diving too deep into the meaning behind the above, it showed me that such realizations cannot happen in a vacuum. For most of this year, I was my own teacher, mentor, and therapist. But, there are limits to me being objective towards… me.
We all need someone else to spot these blind spots.
This is how I see the scale of listening.
Figure: Soundarya’s 6 Scale of Listening.
Sadly, most of our conversations are stuck in 2 and 3.
When you enter your next meeting or are in a group setting, observe how many times someone interrupts someone else.
We want to be heard so badly that we forget we cannot be heard without listening.
The call I had was the only such call I can think of from this year.
An entire year bygone in mostly shallow conversations and a few intentional ones.
John Naisbitt said, “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.”
I can see a similar quote applied to this situation.
What we need from each other the most is what we lack from each other the most.
And that is empathy, compassion, understanding, and an intent to listen to each other.
I don’t know what to write here.
I want to be hopeful about 2021.
I want to think that there will be more such conversations.
But, I know you can’t try to change the world without changing yourself.
So consider this a public promise from me that I will try harder. I will continue to treat others the way I would want to be treated. I will listen more intently and be more compassionate towards the people I meet and speak to. And more importantly, I will be more compassionate towards myself and my past.
How about you?
Will you, too?