Listeners…

Wouldn’t it be great if we all knew how to live and love without needing to be told how? But looking around, it begins to seem as if we have lost that knack.  Instead, we have coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, mentors, therapists… and look back with almost romantic nostalgia upon simpler times, when the world wasn’t mad and we did not need professional help.

I contend that the longing is misplaced. Therapists  and teachers have always been around, we have always needed them…we just called them by a different name. Most of them didn’t specialise in one fragment of human need, but brought a lifetime’s experience to the problem at hand. We called them elders, wise-women, druids, minstrels, priests or storytellers.

The practical skills would be taught by those who knew best. Granny would teach you how to spin or make bread, while grandfather told tales of the hunt or plough. The life-lessons too, were learned through listening, either to simple advice or constructive criticism. Storytellers would weave magic around the fire, shaping tales that held morals and wisdom hidden in their heart. And although the world has changed, people have not altered very much.

We are still surrounded by those teachers and therapists, but we call them by other names. The elders are just ‘old’ and advice from those closest to us is seldom treated seriously. We have lost the ability to listen with discernment or to accept criticism. As a society, we seem to have been conditioned to expect qualifications and letters after a name before we can accept advice as sound. “Yeah, but you’re just my mum/dad/grandad… you don’t count.” We have lost the innate respect for the kind of wisdom that can only be gained through experience.

There is a place and a need for professional expertise and knowledge. Ironially, our society still stigmatises those who genuinely need such help, while those choosing to pay for someone to listen to them are praised for their choice.

Much of what is discussed now with professionals might once have been shared with the elders, with friends and families. Much of it is itself a symptom of the increasingly isolated position in which we find ourselves in this fragmented, introverted society we have built, where families live far apart and few friendships endure in their closeness as jobs  move us around.

But there are teachers and therapists all around us still, and all of them share one quality. They listen. Friends who listen without judgement, advise without agenda… empty hills where we can tell our stories to the clouds or an empty page that welcomes our words… dogs who listen with unreserved attention… trees that share their whispered secrets with us, reminding us we are never truly alone unless we close the door on the world.

Perhaps, when we look back on those simpler times of yore, we need to ask ourselves whether the world really was a simpler, better place… or whether we, younger than we are, were once less complex creatures, less fraught with expectation. The eyes of a child see the world as it is… simpler.

 

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
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63 Responses to Listeners…

  1. Pingback: Listeners… – The Militant Negro™

  2. besonian says:

    Very nice, Sue. And timely. So few people are listeners. One of the most important services you can do for another person is simply to give them your attention and respect, and listen to what they have to say. Few do; most are waiting for you to stop talking so that they can start. And many don’t even wait, just chip in. I lived with a lady many years ago who would do just that – cut in and finish off my sentences. And nine times out of ten she finished them off wrongly!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Love the idea of a Person Whisperer Sue. That’s one of my strengths, I am a good listener, which is why even strangers talk to me and open up about some very personal things sometimes. At the moment, I am finding my blog a ‘good listener’.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. karenringalls says:

    As a retired nurse therapist, I applaud this blog. Listening requires two people…the one to whom one speaks AND the one who is speaking. We sometimes are so emotional or involved in what we are saying, we do not always hear (listen to) the responses.
    Interrupting or finishing another’s sentence is almost never okay. Usually give someone enough time they will tire and stop talking or they will find the word they are searching for.
    A great blog. This is a subject that needs to be talked about more.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Jeanne says:

    Oh i listen. I need to learn how to talk! Great post…🧡🕊🎶🎶🎶

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mary Smith says:

    I’ve been thinking about this recently and you have put it over so well, Sue. I was brought up being told it was rude to interrupt when someone is speaking. As someone else points out above, some people just wait for the person to stop talking without listening to them. Nowadays, I often find myself in a situation where if I don’t jump in, cutting off someone’s words I can’t say anything. I end up sitting quietly. I hear a lot that way!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I was brought up with the Yorkshire Tyke’s Motto firmly at the forefront. It starts with ‘see all, hear all, say nowt…’ (okay, it goes downhill a bit from there with ‘eyt all, sup all, pay nowt… an’ if tha’ does owt for nowt, allus do it for thee sen…’).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was saying to my colleagues just yesterday, Sue, that in many jobs now it is more about a candidates qualifications than their ability to actually do the job that seems to count in job interviews. Really weird as a lot of clever and academic are very poor at putting their learnings into practice in an effective way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      That has been the case for a long time, I think. I know that when I was first responsible for employing staff, with candidates so thick on the ground, the initial triage of applications is often based on what they can do ‘on paper’. It takes a lot of time and attention to read between the lines and get a feel for the person behind the application…and that is a commodity few of us seem to have enough of at work.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A lot of sense in this posting, ( no surprise there!) and it interesting how, in some ways the old were considered the font of wisdom or understanding or whatever, are often just regarded as obsolete in a technology based society where apps are updated with pitiless regularity. Listening has always been the heart of understanding and we all guilty, perhaps of not doing enough of it

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Growing older gives a whole new perspective on age and the way society now regards it… or disregards it, when it comes to appreciation at least. The body ages, the mind matures with experience… and though we may become a bit less tolerant of some things, I think we learn to listen better with the years.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. bobcabkings says:

    Listening is more than hearing. To really listen, we have to dial down our own mental chatter, not just stop talking, become an empty cup. There is a Zen story, “A Cup Of Tea.”

    Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

    Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

    The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

    “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

    Liked by 3 people

  10. noelleg44 says:

    My grandmother was my person whisperer! We do have so many people now, judging us and telling us how to live our lives better. The worst is the government – dictating sugar, salt, straws, and all sorts of things because the politicians think they know best!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    I’ve never met a therapist that was as effective as a sister or good friend to help me get to the heart of a problem and see a solution. I think love is their secret ingredient. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ve had great friends and a great therapist. Both great. I don’t think the world was simpler when we were younger. Different. I don’t know that I was simpler. I think I was probably as complicated and certainly a lot more confused and angry. But our solutions were simpler because we didn’t have access to a lot of things we have now … drugs and lot so psycho-pharmacologists, for example.

    Nowadays, everyone get stuffed full of drugs for every change in behavior. They hadn’t even invented the drugs back when I was growing up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      There is a place and a need for those too… but perhaps not as often as they are prescribed.

      Like

      • I completely agree. They just want to make the kids quiet. They don’t care why they aren’t quiet.

        Like

        • Sue Vincent says:

          quiet or noisy…kids need to grow into themselves.

          Like

          • I think too many drugs make it harder for them to understand themselves. I know there are kids who really need it and quite a few adults, too. But at least in the U.S., the tend to drug any kid that doesn’t “fit in” to the rest of the class. No one tries to find out what the problem really is, whether it’s a smart kids that needs a more challenging class or a kid with learning problems who needs a different type of teaching. Just drug them so they are quiet. It worries me.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Sue Vincent says:

              Yes, that trend worries me too. A few years ago, children with problems slipped through the gaping holes in the net… these days the mesh is getting tighter…perhaps too tight.

              Like

              • Our US schools have NO idea what to do with learning disable — like dyslexic and dyscalcic — kids, so they dope them up. Which solves none of their problems because they aren’t emotionally problematic.

                They are kids who need to learn differently. After all the testing and publicity about them, they still haven’t a clue what to do. It is such a common problem, you’d think they’d have made some progress, but as far as I can tell, they haven’t. Not in public or private schools.

                Ellin’s son had a ton of learning disabilities and his very expensive private schools were no better at helping him than Owen’s were at helping HIM. Since they keep slashing school budgets, I’m not optimistic about the problem getting solved anytime soon.

                Like

              • Sue Vincent says:

                I think you’ve hit the nail on the head… they are kids who need to learn differently. Bright kids with a lot to offer… if only they had a chance and the right help.

                Liked by 1 person

  13. Widdershins says:

    And now, as I get older, life is regaining its simplicity. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. It is more and more difficult to find true listeners today. Wonderful post

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I think there is a lot to be said for learning from our elders who have years of experience behind them.Yes, there is a need for therapists etc but as a compliment to our friends and families, not as a replacement for them! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Listeners... - Graeme Cumming

  17. Pingback: Writing Links…1/29/18 – Where Genres Collide

  18. jenanita01 says:

    Many of us have stopped listening to ourselves too, which is a shame…

    Like

  19. Essentially, from the volume of comments, as well as their quality you can see what a good and interesting post this was. This is the kind of thing which makes blogging so rewarding 🙂 🙂

    Like

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