Through the years, we have rooted our Free Listening practice in a principle offered by David Augsburger: “Being heard is so close to being loved that most people can’t tell the difference.” If you’ve ever joined us or one of the other wonderful organizations who Free Listen, you’ve likely experienced people avoiding being heard. Individuals who seem to circle your Free Listening sign with something to say, but without the courage or trust or need to say it yet. Let’s be honest, there is risk in being heard. There is risk in being loved.

Below is a reflection on this risk from writer/actor/director/producer Cara Jade Myers. I wonder if you will hear the echo of your own story in her words.

I know I did.

Approx 2 minute read

As a child I learned to muffle my screams in a pillow so my parents wouldn’t hear me.

Over time I grew accustom to being ignored, to knowing that no matter what I was feeling, my parents’ feelings mattered more. I was taught to keep my emotions and voice to myself because if anyone found out what was happening at home, I would pay the price.

Also, I’m an only child; so, it was always just me, alone with a closed door that hid my parents.

I’m not telling you this for sympathy, it’s so you know that being heard is foreign to me, and it’s something I’m still learning to allow.

That may sound funny to you.

How do you learn to be heard? And why is it so important?

Because for a long time I didn’t believe I was worthy to be heard. I wasn’t smart enough, or pretty enough, in the end I just wasn’t enough. And that silenced me. But somewhere deep down inside I felt a mustard seed of worthiness. A need to have someone listen to me, and to understand me.

You’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.
— Brene brown

And as you can imagine- I have trust issues (but, that’s a whole other can of worms).

It’s also a roadblock to me being heard. How do I trust someone to know the things I know? To say to someone, the things I need to say, and still be accepted?

It continues to be a learning process of how much I can open myself up to certain people, and who I definitely should not open up to. Luckily, I found someone who listened. Someone who didn’t judge and accepted my faults and failures. It was a weight lifted, a chance to lay down my burdens, even for a moment.

It was a chance to breathe.

Lastly, I had to learn to drop my protective shield. Does that mean I risk getting hurt? Of course. But it also means I risk being known. And let me tell you, this is my least favorite aspect of being heard. Risking closeness. I continue to struggle with this one, but for the very select few (possibly only one) whom I’ve let in, it’s the most rewarding.

Being heard has changed my life. No longer is everything mixed up and bubbling inside waiting to spill over. I’ve learned when I need to be heard, and I ask for help.

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy
— Thomas Merton

My hope for you is that you see your worthiness, so you can trust others enough to drop your shield and risk closeness.

And then do it again.

If you are ready to risk being known, and need someone to listen to you, or, if you’d like to volunteer to listen, visit our new partnership effort, DISCOVERLISTENING.COM. Developed in partnership with SOMEONE TO TELL IT TO, LISTEN FIRST PROJECT, and the NATIONAL CONVERSATION PROJECT, Discover Listening is an online hub where people can be heard or volunteer to listen.

For more information, see the video below.

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