On Listening by Ralph Roughton

Women Speaking, Ralph Roughton, On Listening, Octavia Brooks

This poem is included here on my blog because listening is one of the primary skills of our Witness Selves.  The way this is written, it seems like a dialog between two people and that is important.  I am proposing it’s also great for our own inner dialog, because often we have issues listening to ourselves with presence and attention.  And just like the magic of listening carefully to another person, those places inside us to need hearing also thrive.

I also love that this was written by a gay psychologist, Ralph Roughton!


On Listening by Ralph Roughton

When I ask you to listen to me

And you start by giving advice,

You have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me

And you begin to tell me

Why I shouldn’t feel that way,

You are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me

And you feel you have to do something

To solve my problem,

You have failed me,

Strange as it may seem.

When you do something for me

That I can and need to do for myself,

You contribute to my fear and inadequacy.

And I can do for myself.

I am not helpless.

Maybe discouraged and faltering,

But not helpless.

But when you accept as simple fact

That I do feel what I feel,

No matter how irrational,

Then I can quit trying to convince you and

Get about the business of understanding this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious

And I don’t need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense

When we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps, that’s why prayer works, sometimes, for some people…

Because God is mute, and

He or She doesn’t give advice or try to fix things.

God just listens and lets you work it out yourself.

So please listen and just hear me.

And, if you want to talk,

Wait a minute for your turn,

And I’ll listen to you.


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