Inner Listening and Outer Listening…

A few days ago, something happened that reminded again of how crucial the “inner listening” work can be, especially for those of us whose work involves a lot of “listening to others.” In a conversation with a friend and colleague, he mentioned in passing some work he’d done with a client; everything had gone well, positive evaluations, good outcomes… and yet, he’d been left with some mixed feelings about the work. Having had similar experiences myself, I felt my heart go out to him in empathy. At the same time, I could sense there was a “more” there…

I asked my friend whether he would be interested in doing some “inner listening” right there, right at that spot where the mixed feelings were. Since we are both trained in Focusing practice, it was easy and natural for him to make good use of my offer, and to begin connecting with how his body was holding those mixed feelings. Within a few minutes, he had begun to discover some fresh insights about the work with his client, and was looking at the situation with new eyes…

On my end, I was very much enjoying holding some space for my friend’s inner exploration…. and at the same time, I was becoming uncomfortably aware of some of my own “unfinished business” regarding a recent work experience. Afterward, I mentioned this to him. Given our mutual time constraints, I did not take time right then to delve into my own “inner listening” process. However, we made a date to talk again soon, and continue to exchange supportive listening turns…

I felt very moved by our conversation, and wanted to write about it in my newsletter. Yet at first, it felt very difficult to openly acknowledge the existence of my own still-unfinished business; as though there were something “wrong” or “shameful” about being a “work-in-progress”. And so I struggled a bit, and then…

at some point I paused… acknowledged the feelings… and asked inside, if there might be a different way to hold all of this. And then, I got it!

My friend and I have not had our next date yet; I am still sitting with something that is not yet clear to me, about this recent work with a client. At the same time, now I am holding it differently. I am remembering… there is treasure to be found here!

I think that’s what I love best about the Focusing process, the attitude or working assumption that wherever there is some discomfort or difficulty, there is a potential gift to be found. Even though I’ve been Focusing for many years now, I am always discovering that there are further ways to embody this realization more fully, new areas of challenge that I can learn to welcome as a gift.

Of course, we don’t use Focusing only with difficult experiences. In fact, there is a whole realm of delving more fully into our positive experiences, and discovering a deeper layer of appreciation for the many gifts to be found there. And that’s what some of us will be doing in an upcoming Winter Focusing retreat. My husband Bruce and I will be part of the teaching and hosting team. If you are feeling called to join us, I look forward to seeing you there!

4 thoughts on “Inner Listening and Outer Listening…

  1. Hi Rosa,
    Focusing experience really makes a difference in the long run. Today I can agree: there ist always something to be found and it is always a carrying forward. No intention needed to just see the positive and focus there. It will show and if nothing else is “gained” the focusing experience will bring you nearer to your self and to accepentance which does not mean endurance. Thnaks for sharing.

    • Dear Beate, so good to hear from you! Yes, there is always something to be found when we “listen inside”, and it is always a carrying forward… and I agree, we don’t need to “just see the positive”. For me it is a balance… I value using Focusing practice to offer deep listening and transformative presence to difficult areas, including trauma…. and also, I enjoy using it to delve more fully into the gifts of “what we love”…. Are you familiar with the “love exercise”? It’s how Gene Gendlin would begin all of his Focusing workshops… and now, Joan Klagsbrun has been delving into the crossing of Focusing and positive psychology, and her work is truly amazing. Thank you again for the reminder of how powerful Focusing is, for working with both light and shadow, and everything in-between….

      • Dear Rosa,
        I woluld like to learn more about the “love exercise”. To start with love and invite all that needs attention from this place I can imagine to be a very supporting intro. I will see if I can find more about that.

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