Will You Be My Listening Partner?
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day I wanted to share the love. I recently signed up and joined in on a series of guest talks on Bright and Quirky, which is an AMAZING site dedicated to helping parents of Twice Exceptional Children; as well as parents who are looking to help their children with growing social and communication skills, or other challenges like anxiety, attention, and behavior. I personally chose to join the 2019 Summit to better educate myself as a professional and a parent, and I came away with SO much support and ideas for both areas. I highly recommend it to any parent or professional looking to add understanding and knowledge about themselves and/or their children.
A piece of one talk truly stuck with me. The interview with Patty Wipfler, author of “Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges”. (which I have now of course ordered on Amazon) was so insightful and relatable. She brought up an “asset” I truly think everyone should have, regardless of if you parent or not. Honestly, this asset should be sought after and cherished just to go through everyday LIFE.
A listening partner!
Now, in the discussion, Patty Wipfler talks about how important it is for children, as well as adults, to take an “emotional poop” every now and again (yes, I said it! Who doesn’t benefit from a good old shower cry every now and then? Yes, they are the same thing). She explained that sometimes we do in fact have to sweat out, cry out, kick out, etc. our sadness or madness. She also explained that we as parents/adults need to be OK with sitting, listening, and being present while someone they love or care for goes through such an emotional purge. It’s not about solving the problem, it’s about providing safety and security during it. In order to do this, we need support. As in every other walk in life…it is so much easier when there is a hand to call upon. You don’t need the hand to pick you up, or push you, or pull you, it is just there for balance.
What’s in a good listening partner?
Patty Wipfler describes this as a person who is maybe in a similar situation as you, someone who is good at listening, and (in my words) someone you are comfortable maybe ugly crying in front of. What I love is she sort of describes entering into a structured listening relationship with this person. You ask them if they want to be listening partners and set some boundaries. The listening partner is just that…an ACTIVE LISTENER. They do not need to offer solutions, they do not need to try to reaffirm you, they do not need to try to solve your problem. They are an invaluable set of ears and a willing heart. It’s sort of like the pillow you may sometimes scream into, except you actually get to talk about what’s bothering you. She also recommends this is not your spouse, since you share many of the same stressors. When you meet it should be somewhere quiet and private so you can both really shed off those emotions, uninhibited. Finally, there is ZERO judgement with your listening partner. It’s just a safe place and person. Maybe you already have one of these! Or, maybe you have something like it, but want to add in some structure (ex: I don’t need a solution, I just need to clean my emotional slate).
That’s it! What I took from her talk was that sometimes in order to look inward we benefit from reaching OUTWARD. Relationships are the most important thing we have. They are the connections that help us grow, learn, thrive! We have friends and relationships so that we can balance each other, lean on one another. We have relationships that feed the soil where we grow. Get something on the books! Schedule something weekly or monthly, or oh heck daily! Whatever you are both comfortable with! Valentine’s Day is this day where we are extra aware of love, and extra apt to show it. We can carry that love forward, by being there for OURSELVES and for others. You can only show up for others after you have re-charged yourself. It may look different for all of us, but releasing ALL emotions is important. As they say, better out than in!
The Listening Partner: It feels good to talk, and sometimes it feels even better to LISTEN.