Have you ever had a phrase or quote that comes back to you over and over? Maybe there’s no reason for it or you don’t even like the quote. Maybe you hate it or don’t understand it. I have one of those. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It has never been my favorite saying. In fact it often feels too big for me. I mean, how can little old me create change in this big old world. Then I figured it out.
You see, this has nothing to do with the whole world, it has everything to do with my world. What is it I wish to see in my world? What am I not receiving in my life? I need to be or do what I most wish to see or receive. It was rather comforting to know that I am not responsible for creating something for the whole world. It is, more or less, just for me, with endless possibilities for the world around me.
So this then had me wondering what it was that I most wanted or needed in my life and then dig deeper. That whole “find your why behind the why” thing. I want to do these great things and have a positive affect in peoples’ lives. I want to help, but why do I want to help? What are my true reasons for this desire to help?
I’m not a martyr. Not even close. I want to help for two reasons: myself and others. Making others feel better makes me feel better and vice versa. If I am able to help then people will see me. They will talk to me and ask for my help. They will give me what I am really craving. I will become important enough to be heard. There it is folks! My great desire! I just want to be heard. Nothing all that crazy, but oh so hard to get.
Now to “be the change.” If all I really want in life is to be heard then I have to learn how to listen, really listen. To listen to others without an agenda of my own. While they talk I am not thinking about my response or my lunch or my own crazy life. I am not readying my thoughts or opinions while they are still talking. I need to hear everything they have to say first and then respond if appropriate.
Have you ever been accused of not listening, or accused others of not listening? I think this often happens because we hear one part of what a person is saying and want to respond to that, without listening to the rest. We are thinking about our response before they are done talking. We humans are so impatient. To slow down enough to hear someone completely seems weird and maybe a little uncomfortable. What if when they are done talking there is a pause? Awkward! Maybe.
I have had two people in my life who I felt listened well and a handful of conversations where I felt heard. You know what made them memorable? It was the pause. The moment where I could see them absorbing what I was saying. They took their time to respond and what they said was meaningful and true, even if the conversation was trivial. I felt like they took into consideration all of what I said.
If I want more of this listening stuff from others, I have to give it. That is how I become the change I wish to see in my world. I need be open and willing to hear what others have to say. To be willing to have a moment of awkwardness in order to engage fully with another person. Who knows what I might learn if I pay attention more fully and engage with the person doing the talking. It’s kind of thrilling to think about. I do enjoy a good challenge.
I probably have other things I’d like changed in my world, but I often try to work with whatever comes up first. I will always be changing and growing, never finished with learning and understanding. Knowing that I still need work saves me from the pride of perfection.
I wonder how you could be the change in your world. If you can’t figure out what is lacking, look into your childhood. What is something your 8 year old self really wanted from the people around you? Do that. Be that. Give that. Pay attention. It could be lots of fun and people may start responding to you in great ways.
With so much love,