You’re Talking, But Am I Really Listening?

You’re talking, but am I really listening?  

Too often couples are seen in therapy due to communication problems. Phrases like, “he/she just doesn’t understand me,” or “I just don’t feel like he/she is listening to me,” are all too common phrases.

Many times when we are in heated discussions with a loved one, we are thinking about what we are going to say next, or trying to jump in to get our point across. Subsequently, we are not being “mindful” of what the other person is saying. Being “mindful” is being fully present in the moment you are in just as it is unfolding in front of you.  If while your loved one is speaking, you are thinking about what you are going to say, you are already in the future and not in the moment.

Mindfulness is a skill that is the core of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It’s a skill that requires practice because our society tends to promote being “mindless” by encouraging multi-tasking. One way to get started in becoming more “mindful,” or more fully present in the moment when having a neutral or pleasant discussion, (for both parties) with your loved one is to focus on what they’re saying, pay attention to their tone, and focus on understanding. If you feel the urge to “jump in” to assert your view, just notice that urge, but bring your attention back to what your loved one is saying. Feeling understood and listened to are powerful tools in strengthening relationships.    

Shannon T. Brewer, M.A., L.P.A.

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