Not Feeling Heard? Is She Repeating Things?
Listening consciously to the words of another significantly impacts the quality of the communication, and hence, the quality of relationship. When we listen and truly hear what another has said, we can respond from a deeper and more conscious space. The resulting exchange – whether it be an exchange of information, feelings or even love – will have much more impact for both people.
We Fight to Be Heard
Almost all of us will keep talking, keep trying to restate our position, or fight to get our point across until we feel heard. We might do this repeatedly during a single conversation or we might keep bringing up the same point, issue, or upset again and again over a series of conversations – sometimes over years.
Have you ever wondered, or worse yet, gotten really upset because your partner just won’t “let it go”?
The past is the past, right? Not really. Not in relationship.
Can you think of a time in a conversation where no matter what you said, you knew they didn’t “get” it? How did that feel emotionally for you? What happened to the connection in the relationship when you didn’t feel heard?
On the flip side, let’s look at it from a partner’s perspective. Has your present or past partner repeatedly brought up the same old upset over and over again? Have you thought the door was finally closed on that topic, just to have it brought up again weeks, months or even years later?
That happens because your partner has not yet felt heard. Period.
I Don’t Feel Heard
Why is it that we don’t feel heard? Often it happens because we sense that the other person knew exactly what they were going to say in response, before we even got our words out of our mouth. Then it can feels as if they aren’t considering what we said, that our words don’t matter. Even worse, that we don’t matter.
Similarly, not feeling heard also happens when we speak and our partner offers no acknowledgment of what we’ve said or how we feel. In some cases, the other person might even get defensive instead of acknowledging what we said. When this happens, we can feel wrong or judged for what we’ve said. Again, this leaves us feeling as if we haven’t been heard.
When our partner tells us we shouldn’t feel the way we do, this will often create an experience of invalidation for what we said, the exact opposite experience of feeling heard. This may be the most painful experience of them all.
We long to be seen, heard, and accepted — validated.
The truth is our feelings are valid whether the other person agrees with them or not.
Have you ever noticed that while someone is speaking to you, you are busy sorting through thoughts in your head? You might be figuring out how to prove you’re right or maybe you’re trying to defend your perspective. Have you ever noticed that you’re so caught up in your thinking that as you start to respond, you realize you never really heard what the other person was saying?
Or, have you caught yourself half listening to your spouse or to someone on the phone while you check email, brush the kid’s hair, or cook dinner (or all three at once!)? Imagine if you were the speaker in those situations, how would that feel to you? Would a part of you think, “Why bother even speaking?” This is one of the reasons couples stop talking to each other.
This happens in way too many relationships – whether with our significant other, our co-workers, or our families. When we feel like we aren’t heard, we just stop sharing. We stop communicating. It’s a natural response. If we are expending energy and not getting anything we desire in return, we simply stop expending that energy.
Unfortunately, this creates more separation and tension between couples as challenges and issues often remain unresolved, creating more and more distance and more tension.
3 Ways to Listen from the Heart
So how do you consciously listen from your heart? First, you start by trusting that you will have something impactful to say when it’s your turn to speak, even if you don’t plan it out or think it through first.
Honestly, our most authentic responses, which are inherently our most impactful (and loving) responses, come not from our thinking mind, but spontaneously from our hearts.
Second, you want to rivet your attention on the person speaking. When you rivet your attention on that person you will not only hear their words, you will see their expressions and feel their emotions. You will hear them on every level and they will feel deeply satisfied in their expression.
Now, you may not always like what they are saying and this is where you get to open wide. In conscious relationship, this is an opportunity to step into your highest potential, your best self, and continue listening even when it’s not what you want to hear. That’s an expression of love. You won’t have spoken a word but they’ll feel your love.
Finally, when the other person is finishing speaking, before you respond with your thoughts and feelings, you want to repeat back to them, sincerely, in your own words, what you heard them say. This is the ultimate validation. Here’s the cool part, even if you don’t get it all right as you repeat it back, they’ll know you cared. They’ll know you tried. And, most people will gently clarify what they said, and still feel heard, even though you didn’t get it exactly right. Perfection is not required for love and connection.
As you listen consciously, the other person not only feels heard, your listening will likely inspire them to fully relax and consciously listen to the words you speak. As a matter of fact, if you are in a heterosexual relationship, this skill is critical because men and women argue differently.
This kind of conscious listening from the heart will help you resolve challenges much more quickly. It will allow you to feel a deeper and more authentic connection and you’ll both probably feel much more satisfied and happier with your relationship!
In love, light and ecstasy,
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.