Sometimes when there is a new person in my class who is struggling with the choreography, I try to help her during the class from my place in the front. One of two things often happens: either I’m shouting “RIGHT foot, RIGHT foot….” and the person, very intent on the movement, is just not hearing me, or I (belatedly) realize I am indicating the WRONG foot and it’s a good thing she really wasn’t listening.
I try to deliver the “right” message. Sometimes I’m not heard at all. Other times, I’m wrong. Whether I’m right or wrong, though, it feels really good to be heard.
In life, as in dance, when I am understood, the validation goes both ways -- I feel validated and so do you. We understand each other.
Often we don’t hear what another person is telling us. Maybe it’s because we are focused on thinking about something else or maybe we are thinking about how we are going to retort, rather than really listening. There’s also the chance that we don’t want to hear or simply can’t absorb what another is trying to communicate.
I remember this from the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle: The youngest son, Dewey, has just seen a television ad about a toy he wants. He asks his mom, Lois, if she’ll get it for him.
Lois says, “No, sorry, Dewey.” In his mind’s eye, Dewey sees Lois saying instead, “Hmmmmm. I don’t know. Ask me again.”
Dewey asks again. This time Lois says, “I said no, Dewey. It’s too expensive.” What Dewey hears is, “Gee. Maybe. Ask me again. Louder.”
And so on.
I remember being in a serious relationship that was stormy. (I take equal responsibility for this.) I wanted to convey to my partner that I wasn’t happy and that I didn’t want to live the way we were living. I was trying to initiate change in the relationship. It felt like I was banging my head on a brick wall over and over again. I knew I was not being heard, but kept at it. I got tired of hearing the sound of my own voice. I’m sure he was, too, but I have a long fuse, so I stuck with this relationship.
But then, tired of speaking just to move the air around, I turned a corner. Once you turn that corner, you can’t go back. You are just, profoundly, done.
When all efforts brought the same results, finally, I had to leave and I said so.
His reaction was, “What??! You’re leaving me???? Why????”
Ask the neighbors.
We are only responsible for how and what message we send another. We can’t take responsibility for how that person receives it.
There’s a part of us that knows when a person is not receiving our communication and we want to take hold of that person and throttle him until he listens. (I told you it was a stormy relationship.)
But we can’t. Or we can try, but that’s a whole lot of head-banging for nothing.
No matter how much you love another person, or how much chemistry there may be, when you can’t hear each other and then, further, believe what you’re hearing, there is a corner that will be turned.
Hearing each other -- really perceiving what is being communicated -- is what makes us peaceful and happy together. Once we understand, there could still be problems to surmount, but the struggle is half over when we’ve really listened.
If you can truly hear the music, whether it’s just in your head or blaring from a speaker -- that’s when you can really dance.