COLUMN: Patient Listening a Soothing Gift of Love or Friendship
Whether it had been an essay, a test, or an upcoming conference, she stated the danger to yourself or others flag. Now, her family were driving to sign her old of the observation room.
Sunshine greeted the thornless roses with a hug, kiss and an instant smile followed by excited conversation about the next day’s conference. She seemed stable, perhaps, guilty of an anxiety prone misstatement. In fact, the still worn pantyhose appeared more of a prospective “threat” than the roses.
About an hour after her release, she called and asked me to accompany her to the conference the next day. I agreed figuring this might be a little family insisted “code” for my becoming the emergency “go to” person, just in case.
During the time in the serious relationship with the upbeat, intellectually challenging and beautiful performing artist, there were a two or three additional panicked thoughts. I caringly, lovingly and patiently tuned into a reflective listening mode for her to express troubling thoughts, then, she’d appear that anxiety turned into a mutual snuggle.
Before you think the response one-sided, prior to the written expression in favor of caring reflective listening, I had been a crime victim who suffered occasional moderate flashbacks particularly a feeling or free fall (to the ground) and location recall.
When a dancing whirl activated an association, Sunshine returned the compassion by taking me for an arm in arm three block walk. Or, in other instances, listening to my infinite recount then gently altering the subject to present or future.
Reflective listening requires a journalistic staple: You acknowledge the thoughts and occasionally ask a follow up. In a world now dominated by 143 character Tweets or limited text sentences, it’s another example of abbreviating thoughts. However, by showing concern and love to fully listen to feelings without a stop watch, the discussion often shared thoughts before they elevated to fully fledged concerns.
And, complicating the lengthy interested listening scenario, a balancing threshold of sharing often vulnerable intimacies. An invited involvement can backfire into perceived suffocation. You know, once the caring hug stabilization has balanced, allow the complementary mode to gradually adjust before calling a “take care of [only] yourself” foul. They were precious, tender reciprocating moments of growing stronger accepting each other’s vulnerabilities unconditionally, so as to confidently recognize achieve and know how to supportively stand by each other.