Continuing our look at Conscious Relating, let’s investigate the second key component of conscious relating: other-awareness, or more simply stated, seeing and listening to the person we want to relate with. This outward focus and awareness on the other complements the inward focus on ourselves that we discussed last time.
In conscious relating, other-awareness reminds us that there is more than one person involved in our dynamic or relationship and that, if we want to relate in consciousness with them, we must see them for who they are and truly listen to what they want to express. This means that we have to remember that life isn’t all about us.
What really defines the quality of our lives is the quality of our relationships.
It’s true that sometimes life gets crazy or intense and we feel like there is barely time to breathe. Yet in those moments, we can forget that those around us also have needs, challenges, feelings, and desires. So, the key is to really stop, listen and truly take notice of those you want to relate with.
You might think, “Of course I am aware of the person I’m talking to.” And I might ask you, “Are you really?” You see my experience has been that so often in conversations, we are much more interested in telling our story or getting our agenda across than we are in truly hearing what the other person is feeling or needing. How often are you already formulating your response in your head before the other person even finishes speaking? What if you were to stop “constructing” your next sentence and really listen (and watch) what is being expressed. What if you stopped and really let the other person’s words sink into your being and then from that place of truly having experienced their words, you let your response just arise from consciousness?
We have many reasons for wanting to respond rather than listen. Sometimes we want to be sure we are on top of the situation or we want to be sure we have something “good” to say or sometimes we don’t actually believe the other person has anything of real value to contribute or still other times we truly don’t care what they are saying and we just want to be sure they hear what we have to say. I suggest that most of these types of conversations actually result in unconscious relating.
Another way that we unconsciously relate is by not recognizing that other people are actually impacted emotionally, mentally, and physically by our communication. Sometimes our words can be painful to hear. (I’m not suggesting that we not speak our opinions or be ourselves, I’m just suggesting that sometimes the truth can hurt.) Another way this can happen is when we have an unconscious automatic reaction to something that has happened and we spew our pain and upset all over another person.
In those moments when our communication causes upset in another person – whether through our conscious and truthful expression or through an unconscious emotional reaction on our part – we want to listen and be sensitive to what the other person is feeling and experiencing. We want to see it, hear it, be witness to it, and acknowledge it. Then we can clearly choose what our next communication is – which could be an acknowledgement, an apology, or an expression of our experience of the situation (which could be much different than the other person’s experience.)
When we take in the others full experience before we respond, we have the opportunity to be much more aware, conscious and impactful in our communications.
Ask yourself, how have I listened today?
Remember, other awareness builds conscious relationships.
*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.