Let’s be honest… we are all hard of hearing.
I’ll say that again in case you didn’t hear it. We are all hard of hearing.
Yes, even you… the guy in the back row who can chew ice and still hear a pin drop in the other room. The good hearing I’m talking about has little to do with the quality of the nerve endings in our ears, or the ability to tell consonant sounds apart. We’re talking about becoming masters of conscious listening—true understanding—which is something we can all attain.
We have lost the ability to listen. I mean… to truly hear. Most people don’t stop talking to listen to what someone else has to say… we only stop talking long enough to catch our breath and wait until the next time we can start talking again.
Everybody’s talking… and nobody is listening.
In many ways, the “deafness” that most people have is much worse than the legitimate hearing loss that I have. It is sad that people don’t listen to what other people have to say. For the most part, I have discovered that the people who talk loudly about how people should open to other opinions and perspectives are the same people that are talking so much that they never listen to opposing views or perspectives.
As I have grown older, my hearing loss has increased significantly. I will tell you that my hearing problem may reach the stage of total deafness. It is a real possibility. Apart from losing the ability to hear the voices of my grandchildren or the music that is so much a part of my life, becoming totally deaf doesn’t scare me.
While my hearing is worse, my ability to listen has improved and grown immensely in the last few years. I hear more than people who have perfect hearing.
I have listed a few points to ponder when it comes to listening, regardless of how well your ears work.
Listen carefully, (or read them carefully) and you will hopefully find value in my message. Print these points out, maybe tattoo them under your earlobes, and then apply them in your life until you can finally hear that metaphorical pin drop. Hearing a real pin really doesn’t matter.
You don’t need to hear everything.
One of the most significant challenges to being hearing impaired is feeling that you’re missing something… that you’re isolated, alone, and the world is passing you by. As a card-carrying member of the hearing aid club, I used to get frustrated when I couldn’t hear something happening around the house, or if I was at a restaurant and couldn’t hear the conversation at the end of the table. Then it dawned on me, did I really need to know that conversation? I finally came to the conclusion that I did not need to know.
What a feeling it was to realize that I didn’t have to hear everything to be a part of everything. It’s not an easy lesson to master, and I’m still mastering it. But it’s worth the effort when you realize that mastery can only be achieved with living in the moment mindfulness, which is far more powerful than any words you might have missed.
And regardless of how well you hear, the lesson is the same. We don’t need to be a part of every conversation, a part of all the noise in the world—the mindless chatter and empty conversations that do nothing to make our lives better.
It’s about learning to become selective with our hearing. Choosing what words and messages we will allow into our lives. And this includes all those voices in our heads that say we’re not smart enough, rich enough, young enough…good enough. This week make a conscious decision to listen only to the things that matter.
You’ll know what they are when you hear them.
Don’t believe everything you hear.
Some examples… We only use 10% of our brains, cracking your knuckles causes arthritis, the Great Wall of China is the only human-made structure that can be seen from the moon … Do you ever wonder where people get some of the things they believe? We live in a very dark world where rumors abound. Gossip abounds. Slander abounds. Even in the “Christian” community (so-called), tragically.
Like it or not we are dependent on the media to act as a go between, bringing issues to our attention. We rely on the industry to break down complicated issues so we can respond. But ALL media has its own agenda and influential forces. If we accept that we don’t have a completely objective companion, how do weigh what they say? How do we spot the lies and the bias? We are called to be perceptive people. God promises to give us insight. The biggest challenge is for us not to swallow everything we hear before asking God to show us what He sees and how do we please Him.
Your mother was right. You shouldn’t talk with your mouth full. Or listen, for that matter.
And we all do it.
It’s called hogging the conversation, also known as the “all about me” syndrome—monopolizing the conversation with what we’re doing, what we believe, our problems, and our accomplishments. And be warned, this “all about me” affliction comes disguised in many shapes and forms, like:
- Interrupting someone to make your point or making arguments in your head before the other person is done talking.
- Filling in the blanks of a conversation because you’re too impatient to let others finish their thought.
- Judging or dismissing someone else’s opinions, and even worse, telling people what they really mean, or what they should think and believe.
- Hearing only what you want to hear.
If any of this is you (and at one time or another, it’s all of us), it doesn’t matter how state-of-the-art your hearing aids are (or your own ears), you’ll never turn hearing into understanding.
You’ll only hear words.
Embrace the silence.
Most of us avoid silence. I love it most times. But for many people, being left alone with only their thoughts is tough. It can be eerie, isolating, and uncomfortable. So, we turn on the noise. Raise the volume. Distract.
However, once we embrace the silence, the stillness can become engaging, even welcoming and beautiful. But we need to train ourselves. It doesn’t come easy.
Take time this week to turn off the sound in as many ways as you can. Less conversation, TV, music, and empty chatter. Look for places to be alone. Seek quiet and stillness more often. No matter where you are on the hearing spectrum, embrace silence as an avenue to hear more. Be grateful for the solitude, then allow the silence to guide you to a deeper place. It will change your opinion and your perspective.
Learn other ways to communicate.
There is a voice that doesn’t use words.
Sound is great, but so is body language, touch, love, enthusiasm, and joy. These emotions (energy) are spoken without words. To master this language is to master the hidden nuances of life—to find the pearl inside the oyster.
You don’t need ears to tap into this conversation. You need awareness. Strive to hear in as many different ways as you can. Find connections and patterns. Use your eyes, your heart, and your intuition. Make it your mission to discover this new language—the universal language we all hear.
Ultimately, these are a challenge for us all to transform our relationship with hearing. More than that, they are a challenge that will allow us to turn our limitations into a whole new level of understanding—one that will help us hear what truly matters.
It’s called turning hearing into an artform.