Listening is Not Agreeing –
Late last week someone said something about me and that I didn’t agree. At first, the emotion was to respond, defend myself, dig in my heels, push back against the criticism. It wasn’t something overwhelmingly harsh but it did rub me the wrong way.
Instead of responding right away I sat with it for a bit and reflected on it. Oftentimes critiques are met with resistance. We want to defend ourselves. However, if we are too quick to jump our own defense we might miss something constructive. There’s an old wisdom saying; “Both criticism and compliments should be taken with the same weight.” Receiving compliments and praise can be easier but they have a way of pumping up our ego and sense of self. Criticisms, if held on to, can create bitterness, rivalry, and ruptured relationships.
One of the greatest disciplines of contemplative listening is found in the truth; “Listening is not agreeing.” When someone speaks to us a compliment or criticism we do not have to own it, take it inside of us, let it mingle with our minds, emotions, and spirits. We can examine it, turn it over in our minds and, if we have self-awareness, can decide if it is meant for us, to grow, to learn, to let it become a part of us. Perhaps its simply another’s opinion and through insight and stillness, we discover that we can let it go. It’s not for us.
“The mark of a wise mind is the ability to hold a thought in our heads
and not necessarily believe it to be true.” #Aristotle
Let Go –
The quote in the picture is one of my favorite wisdom proverbs. Letting go of things is as important, and as difficult, as learning and gaining knowledge and wisdom. What I have learned over the years, however, is things have a way of coming back that you are gone and forgotten.
Earlier this week I was revisited by thoughts of someone who hurt me long ago. I have dealt with these thoughts before and have let go of them. These persistent thoughts though, like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe, have a way of following me wherever I go.
I recognize them for what they are; ruminating. “Ruminating is simply repetitively going over a thought or a problem without completion. When people are depressed, the themes of rumination are typically about being inadequate or worthless. The repetition and the feelings of inadequacy raise anxiety and anxiety interferes with solving the problem.” Psychology Today (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwilur2Iy6rWAhXFWSYKHYxNA4QQFgg5MAI&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.psychologytoday.com%2Fblog%2Fdepression-management-techniques%2F201604%2Frumination-problem-in-anxiety-and-depression&usg=AFQjCNFQ4v7E8XRgsUr7_j6GKQIIws-W_A) Rumination is a sign of or leading to a rise in my anxiety and a rise in anxiety leads to a depressive episode. I know this and yet the thoughts, at times, keep coming.
Usually, after a bit, with the thoughts tumbling over in my head, and the re-realization there is no satisfactory conclusion I let go again. I used to hope they would be gone for good but it is not meant to be. So I try to let them be an exercise in wisdom discipline and pray I get stronger each time I release the weight.