One key to lessening loneliness is to hear what another person is saying, and to realize they are at once describing the feelings, emotions and thoughts of your soul as well as their own. This helps the listener realize that they are not alone, because someone else is articulating a message they have heard before in their own heart, soul and mind.
This is one reason I derive great pleasure from putting words on the page. I enjoy writing ideas, feelings and perceptions that at once are familiar to you, and yet, have a twist, a surprise waiting that compels you to say, “I never thought of it that way before”, and, “I’ve always known that, but I’ve never been able to say it.”
This is one reason why I really enjoy authentic sharing, without advice giving or fixing. If you or I share vulnerably and authentically our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and perceptions, the truth of those vulnerable words creates a resonance in the heart of the hearer.
For instance, over the last three or four days I’ve been listen to and watching content through audio book and YouTube on the topic of ADHD. When people describe their experiences of ADHD, sometimes they really resonate with me. In their words I notice something about myself that’s been there, but that I hadn’t yet been able to put into words. This reminds me that I’m not alone. As my knowledge grows about ADHD, I’m able to recognize and identify the ADHD characteristics in others.
Today when I listened to my new businessman friend talk, it didn’t take me long to note the markers of ADHD; a constant flow of verbal information, bluntly expressed opinions, a certain frenetic energy which laced the body language, the fact that he is a business owner, and has a track record of starting or owning many businesses (ADHD people are 300% more likely to start a business), new insights on old topics with a certain quirky property, expressiveness, a certain sensitivity and child-like energy and zest for life, and a willingness to jump into adventures with both feet.
Honestly, before now I would have thought the guy was arrogant as all get-out, and was full of himself, and I would have, (to some extent) been oblivious to the fact that we shared many similar qualities.
It’s so incredible to me that I’ve lived my entire life and had such a difficult time finding my people, the risk takers, the energetic and child-like, the excitable, the adventure seeking, the powerful need for variety and constant challenge. There’s something in our souls that is turned on by immense challenge.
Years ago when I was being interview by a man for a management trainee position at Enterprise Rent a Car, as hard as I wanted to fake my interest in the position because I was so desperate for a good paycheck, he picked up on my obvious lack of interest. It was impossible for me to hide. It sounded to me like the most boring, painful job ever. Customer service. Ugh.
But when I started to consider going overseas to teach English in South Korea, their was no lack of passion juices flowing in me. I wanted to go. I needed to go. I needed to be in an environment where a million sources of new data were flowing to me at a 1000 miles a second. I needed the challenge and variety.
I remember thinking to myself with pain how boring Redding and America had become. I told people many times that I had met America, and now it was time to meet Korea.
Societies are like individuals. Individuals have infinite aspects to themselves flowing inward and outward to eternity, but let’s say that it doesn’t take long to figure out the big personality distinctions of an individual. Societies have personalities. In part, this is what is meant by culture. Societies and groups of people have worldviews, preferences, and ways of thinking. Americans have a visual-metaphorical sense of humor. Mainland Chinese have a kinestetic-literal sense of humor. The differences are absolutely beautiful.
What I love about going to new countries is that is takes many many days, weeks, and months to “meet” the personality of a society. It takes me about 3 and a half years, and then I’m ready to move on. In a sense, it’s like when I go to a party, and feel propelled by some intense inner force to meet everyone in the room, get to know them a little, find something in common with them, make them laugh, and help them to feel seen.
Tonight while I sat at a large round table at Starbucks, an elderly lady came over and set her big purse on a seat at the table and starting transferring her frapachino, spoonful by spoonful into what looked like a narrow, empty coffee jar with a red twist off lid.
At one point, I asked what her name was. Rebecca (what a great name, right??), she said. We chatted a little and she told me about how she attended a training put on by the McConell foundation and the Chamber of Commerce on the topic of communication. She taught me how she had been taught that people give and receive messages through their own lenses, which makes it harder for people to understand each other. She told me that she was preparing to talk to some people in her family, and how the class had really helped her. She said that there were some problems going on with some people in her family.
I praised her for her courage, told her I was proud of her, and told her that she was preparing to face her fears about communicating with her family members, and that she was to be commended for that. She said, how do you know that? I answered, because I see it. She thanked me. I knew at that moment, she knew she had been seen for who she really was; a courageous woman who was fed-up with the hurt of alienated family members and wanted to be closer to them, wanted to bring some reconciliation. She was brave.
The audio book Non-violent Communication taught me that people want to be seen. So often when I have looked at other people, I’ve really been looking at myself and not trying to understand or serve the other people. But now, I practice seeing other people. I drop my consciousness from my head to my soul and gaze at people as they talk to me, and the most beautiful gifts reveal themselves to me. It’s like, ever person I meet is a gift, a real gift, to the world, and to me for the blink of an eye because I get to witness their priceless beauty.
I used to make each interaction with new people about them knowing me in the splendor of my verbal glory and humor. Bow down to me my child, was my attitude. Now, I want to make sure each person I meet knows I see them, notice them, value them. I want to give them the gift of being known, understood, heard, if not just for a moment. But I think making someone feel known and noticed and cared for (after all, aren’t we all in this together, and is it not in each of our best interests to do some good in this world), is perhaps breathing into them a breath of life. Maybe it is in our power, especially if serving and listening to God, to show people, “I’m listening to you. I want to understand you, because you are valuable, interesting, and worth the time.”
Does this action not bring a little more Heaven to Earth, bring a little more peace out of the chaos, bring a little more good into someone’s life? I hope so. I know so. In this way, is it not possible to dissipate a little of the poison of the lies, “You are alone. Nobody wants you. You don’t matter”, from the heart, mind and soul of one or more people? Yes, it’s possible. Maybe even inevitable in the best way, the way that Light dispels darkness.