Do You Hear to Listen or to Understand?

A couple of days ago while wasting time on Facebook (yeah, I do that sometimes), I came across a video of a hilarious British comedian named Peter Kay who was doing a skit on misheard song lyrics. This guy cracked me up as I’ve recently learned that I’m not really the self-proclaimed Queen of the ‘70s lyrics lady as I once believed. You see, I’ve been going to the gym (sorry – should have posted a warning before that statement in case someone has a coronary over moi actually working out) and I’ve created a YouTube playlist of old rock ‘n roll faves to keep me motivated while secretly mind bashing the treadmill. So I mouth along with the tunes I’m listening to and have discovered I really haven’t been singing the right words for decades.

This revelation got me thinking about a line in a book I’d read a couple of months back about how we either hear to listen or hear to understand. And it’s clear I’m guilty of simply not paying close attention.

For years we women have accused men of having ‘selective hearing’ and only retaining what they want to remember, while easily forgetting the rest of the request or story we’ve been telling them. Yet it’s not just the guys who have this problem. Almost all of us at times go on autopilot and automatically tune out the words that someone is throwing our way in a conversation. Sometimes it’s because we’re really not that interested in what the other person is saying, or it could be that we’ve got a bajillion other things on our mind and we just can’t concentrate on the conversation at hand.

While hopefully nothing of great importance gets overlooked when we take those mini ‘hearing’ vacations, there are probably times when being slightly oblivious to the words coming our way have a cost or repercussion in our lives. When our spouse, child, friend, or even clients are trying to impart the importance of something that happened to them, or want to share a significant thought they’ve had with us and we’re in hearing to listen mode, that’s when we suffer a great loss. We can totally miss the reason or reasons behind the other person speaking to us. They could be hurting or in pain and we might miss the subtle clues offered by their words. We could also not comprehend that someone is so overcome with joy that they simply want to share it with us. And there we stand, nodding our head as if we’re totally getting what they’re saying… but we’re not.

Sure, we all have people in our lives that drone on and on and… (you get the drift and I’m certain I’ve been one of those people a time or three), but we put up with them because we like them. And yes, they can be as annoying as a mosquito buzzing around in your bedroom at night and you can’t see it to smack it and end the tale of misery. But the next time someone you care for starts a conversation with you, perhaps you could REALLY try to understand what it is that they’re saying to you. Give them ten minutes of your undivided attention before you slip into the ‘drone zone.’

And business peeps, that’s also something you may want to practice at your next networking event as well. You might actually impress a potential new client by comprehending what their business is all about and what they’re looking from you IF you’re listening to understand.

PS: Here’s the link to the Peter Kay’s skit on misheard lyrics for your ‘listening’ enjoyment. Man, I love British humour.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMYorpYNMKc

You Are NOT Your “Story!”

I’ve been vowing to write this blog post for over two months and today is the day.

I belong to a great entrepreneurs group founded by the multi-talented Maureen Craig McIntosh (http://monctonrealitytherapy.com/join-eric) and on one of our ERIC calls the subject came up about beliefs that we carry throughout our life that somehow continue to define how we live our lives. I listened to a couple of other people on the call who spoke on the subject and then I blurted out in my usual interruptive way and said, “We are NOT our story!”

After a couple of minutes of silence, I proceeded to back up that statement by sharing the following point of view on the subject.

Frankly, at some point in all our lives, we have to let go of our past hurts, disappointments, and so-called failures. We can only blame our parents and others for the way we turned out for so long. I believe the expiration date on blame placement should end around age 40 because frankly, if we haven’t “grown up” by then chances are we aren’t going to. We’ll be forever finger pointing and beating our chest crying out in anger “If you hadn’t told me I was (insert appropriate limiting belief statement here) then I would have NEVER turned out this way!” Another great often used excuse for not potentially reaching a goal is “Well, if my (mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, cousin – you name it) had encouraged me to study harder and go to (college, university, trade school etc.) than I would be wealthy by now!”

People, pull a “Frozen” and let that story go!

Yes, it’s true that some people never receive the encouragement a young child needs to build healthy levels of self-esteem. And it’s also true that life seems to bestow great and wonderful things on some while heaping crud on others. Yet by the time we approach mid-life, WE are creating our own stories and beliefs. WE are making choices on how we wish to live our lives. I truly believe that if we keep rekindling hurtful memories and fanning the anger fire within ourselves, we will never, ever, achieve a state of happiness or be comfortable in our own skin.

What happened thirty, twenty, ten, or even a single year or day ago is in the past. Why are you still carrying around that incident or grudge? Aren’t you tired of living in sadness or rage? Plus think of the valuable “real estate” in your brain that you’re letting these people and thoughts rent for free! Why? And how are those thoughts serving you today?

Not very well, are they?!

Alexander Pope was spot on when he said, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” Acknowledge that so and so was mistaken when they made a negative judgement call on any aspect of your character way back when… and then forgive them. Besides, you are NOT the person today that you were years ago.

You are NOT your story, or at least not anymore.

 

Maybe it’s time you wiped the slate clean and started writing a new book called “My Life NOW!”

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marlene Oulton, AKA “The Words Lady” and resident wordsmith of www.MarleneOulton.com derives great satisfaction from assisting authors, writers, coaches and SOHO entrepreneurs produce clean, crisp and concisely written articles, newsletters, website copy and other literary works. To find out more on how she can make your words sing and dance… without adding music visit www.MarleneOulton.com today!

 

Unsung Victories

girl-woo-hooI’m sure that for every braggadocios posting in Facebook that veritably screams at the reader, “Hey! Look at what I did today!” there must be hundreds, even thousands of other people who never utter a single word about the amazing feats they’ve managed to accomplish in the run of their average, everyday life.

Like the person who’s been struggling to lose weight and finally saw the numbers go down on her scale this morning, even if it was only by a half kilogram. Or the person who has been trying to cut salt out of their diet to help lower their blood pressure and their doctor has finally taken them off medication. Or what about those quiet, caring people who look after sick loved ones, day after exhausting day, without so much as a word in social media about how ‘brave’ they’re being doing what they feel in their heart that they must do for those who are fading away from this earth. Or what about the people who routinely do what to others may seem like small, insignificant advances towards becoming a better all-round, caring human being?

I have more respect for people who DON’T say anything about their small, unsung victories than I do for the thousands who feel compelled to regal us all with their tales of heroic (or stoic) behavior. Don’t get me wrong here, folks. I’m very glad that we have enthusiastic volunteers who do a myriad of things for others, and yes, they should be applauded for their efforts. Yet I am more in awe of the silent warriors who wage personal wars in their world every single day and win.

I believe that it’s those unsung victories that add a wealth of ‘feel good’ moments into our lives. It’s that little voice inside ourselves that says ‘Holy crap! I didn’t think I could do that… but I did. Yay for me!’ and then we go about our daily tasks.

So if any of you reading this blog post experienced a teeny, tiny, ‘woo hoo’ happening today that you’ve not bragged about, I applaud you. May those little victories keep adding up in your heart until it’s overflowing with love and gratitude for the small things that make a life whole and rewarding.

I Saw the Bogeyman

I saw the bogeyman last week.

All the years of my childhood, I feared that unknown scary person. You know, the one that you were sure was under your bed at nights when you couldn’t fall to sleep, or the one who was definitely hiding in your closet just waiting for you to nod off and would then come out and choke you. Yeah, that ‘thing’ – the one without a face or a name, but the one that scared you silly and caused nightmares.

Guess what? He’s now real… at least to me. And he came out in broad daylight last week and terrorized myself and my city.

Around 7:00 pm, on June 4th, a few kilometers away from my tiny little house in the usually quiet small city of Moncton, NB, he came out of the shadows into the slowly fading evening skylight. (more…)

Confessions of a “Spring-aholic”

I have a confession to make. I love dirt… and I love cows. Read on and you’ll find out what they have in common in my mind.

I love the smell of it, the feel of it in the springtime as it ‘smushes’ between my fingers while I’m digging in my flower beds – I love everything about it. Even when my fur-babies track some of it into the house from playing in the backyard, it doesn’t bother me.

For the first 18 years of my life I lived on a working farm near the ocean. While a lot of my friends loved winter, I detested it from a very young age. I’d wait impatiently for warmer weather to arrive and with it the promise of spring.

Things would slowly start to thaw, including the huge manure pile outside the barn door. Melting mounds of snow would create little rivers cutting through the thawing ground on their way to lower elevations. Everyone seemed to be happier, livelier in some way, as if we humans had been in semi-hibernation along with the bears and wildlife that lived back in the woods at the edge of our property.

Flowers Spring 2014

First Spring Flowers 2014

Living on the farm, I’d know exactly when that wonderful day that I called spring would arrive. It never ceased to surprise me when that special occasion suddenly snuck up on me, but I was always overjoyed when I ‘smelled’ it.

That special day happened anywhere between the middle and end of April, depending on how much snow and cold weather we’d had that winter. I usually arrived home from school between 3:45 pm and 4:00 pm. The bus driver let my younger brother and me off the bus at the lower part of our circular driveway and we’d dash up the coal-ash covered lane to the front door of our farmhouse.

Yet on ‘spring’ day, I’d linger on that walk, savouring the announcement of my favorite season – the smell of rotten cow shit permeating through the air. You see, once the ground had dried up enough so that the tractor wouldn’t make ruts in the pasture ground, my Dad would start cleaning out the cow pens that were 3’ to 4’ high in manure, and spread it as fertilizer on our land.

Man, it stunk! Nowadays most people living next to a farm probably file complaints about air pollution when a farmer spreads manure on his property. I don’t even know how they dispose of a full winter’s worth of cow dung these days as I’ve lived in the city for most of the past 30+ years after leaving my family home and am out of touch with today’s farming protocol.

But I still miss that smell.

The only thing that comes close to it is when I’m out cleaning out my flower beds after a hard winter spell. When my nose is close to the earth and that pungent aroma of half-thawed dirt mixed in with last years decayed leaves reaches my nose, I am one happy camper. Those first little tender green shoots of leaves and flowers to come and that amazing one-of-a-kind smell serves as a wonderful reminder that even after a period of harshness, a reprieve of happiness follows.

I love dirt… and I love cows. I think I need to make a visit to a farm in the country to welcome in spring properly.

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