Welcome to my new series, “Listening with Love.” I’m Rachael Wolff, author of Letters from a Better Me, creator of FromALovingPlace.com, Facebook.com/FromALovingPlace and Instagram.com/fromalovingplace. I’m also the creator and facilitator of the virtual 35-Day A Better Me Boot Camps.
If you’ve never read my work before, I write about living life from a loving place, which doesn’t always mean a positive place. I tackle some painful topics from a loving perspective. I go deep, because I know that the way to break unhealthy patterns first comes from seeing what lies beneath the surface. We all have the ability to fake it, but the one part of us that can never lie is the energy that we project from the inside out.
In my last blog series, “Daily Aligning with Love, Abundance, and Peace,” I spent an entire year focusing my energy on aligning with love, abundance, and peace over fear, lack, and separation. The daily practice truly helped me to become more conscious of what energy I was projecting in any given moment.
In this series, I’m stepping it up! One of the sad things I noticed as a result of my last series is that I found myself in the energy of fear, lack, and separation more with the people I’m closest to. Like many, I have some interesting quirks. From a psychological perspective: As a teen, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and then several years ago, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Since I’m not an overly clean person and I don’t have a lot of noticeable repetitive patterns, I didn’t recognize my behaviors as symptoms of OCD. Since getting the diagnosis, I can see the gifts that come with it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my challenges in other areas. When plans change on me last minute; I’ve mentally planned and committed to something in my head; mass tragedy occurs; or something unexpected comes up, I have to do some serious work to stop my mind from spinning uncontrollably. If I don’t have space to process, I start spinning stories from the energy of fear, lack, and separation that lead to OCD style actions. I get noticeably flustered and irritated on a number of occasions.
One of the areas I struggle with the people closest to me is listening with love when I feel scared, concerned, angry, or helpless. Like many, I don’t like when the people I love are in pain. My want to try to control their level of pain can leave the people I love feeling unseen and unheard, which is the LAST thing I want.
As a parent of two teens, I can get caught up in wanting to fix things and protect my children from the world. With friends, I can be a fierce defender who doesn’t see that maybe they just need to feel seen and heard. In my romantic relationship, old stories or expectations can get in the way of me listening with love. With close family, I can want things to be different than they are for them or me. Recently, I had it brought to my attention that I missed some pretty big warning flags that people I loved needed to feel seen, and they didn’t. As great as a communicator that I can be, I still have areas that need improvement—listening with love is one of them!
That’s why I’m starting this series. I know how much focusing my energy on love, abundance, and peace helped me to gain awareness; so focusing on listening with love feels like a logical step towards healthier communications with others. This isn’t just going to be about my life, I will be making observations about what I see in the world from MY perspective. I want to make that clear. Just because I see things the way I do doesn’t make them right or wrong, it’s just the way I see them.
If what I see makes sense to you, great! If it doesn’t, as they say in 12-step programs, “Take what you like and leave the rest.” I write and speak according to my thoughts, stories, and beliefs that come from my life experiences and education. You are listening from thoughts, stories, and beliefs that come from your life experiences and education. They are NOT always going to match up, but when we listen with love, we can see if our thoughts, stories, and beliefs are serving us in productive ways.
If they aren’t, we can take steps to change what isn’t working. We can feel empathy and listen with compassion even when we don’t agree. Someone else’s reality is not OUR experience. Understanding that make a HUGE difference in our ability to listen with love. Even if our experiences and beliefs are similar, each of us wants to feel seen and heard, and we all have the ability to act out when we don’t feel like we are.
If you’ve read my book or my blog, you KNOW the importance I put on defining love. How can we know, experience, feel, communicate, or listen with love if we don’t have a solid definition on what love is? The answer is we can’t. When we don’t have a solid definition it’s easy to confuse love with emotions that come from fear. Now, here’s the thing: We each are going to define love according to what FEELS like the truth inside of us. That’s why I want to be clear about the definition of love I see as truth. As I open up throughout this series, the definition of love that I’m doing my best to know, feel, experience, and communicate is…
Love is patient; Love is kind; Love is NOT envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; It is not irritable or resentful; It does not rejoice in Wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
-Corinthians 13.4-13.7 Harper Collins Study Bible (1989)
Here’s where I need to bring in a little more clarification. I’ve read a lot of definitions of love. Even different versions of Corinthians hit me differently at different times. Even this one has a word in it that I’ve had an inner debate on in recent years. That is the word, envy. If you listen or read Brené Brown, she speaks of the use of envy in a way that is more about understanding the emotional science around the feeling of envy. This is why perspective matters, because it really is about how each individual sees it based on their life experiences and education.
I see “envy” in Corinthians as malicious based in the energy of fear, lack, and separation. This is the kind of envy that can lead to people getting hurt and/or creating suffering for ourselves, which then separates us from others as more or less than another person and/or their experiences. Yet, I do understand that when we talk about the feeling of envy, it’s not always malicious. Our wanting something can lead us down specific paths and help us to create goals for ourselves. It doesn’t necessarily take us down into the depths of energy to fear, lack, and separation. My point is that we are going to have reactions to different words based on our experiences and/or education. What is important is that we are aware of our internal reactions to the words that are being communicated, because if I’m at war within myself over a word being used, I can miss the bigger picture and get stuck in the energy that I’m putting into the word.
No word itself carries energy. We give energy to words. They are just letters put together in a way that us humans have created over time. I personally don’t have an emotional reaction or response to the word envy being used, but others might, so just check-in with yourself along the way if specific words are having an effect on you. An emotional reaction is a doorway to see what is going on inside us. That is EXACTLY what took me on my journey of finding the meaning of love. My old definition of love caused me pain. It caused me to stay in unhealthy situations for longer than necessary. My old definition of love caused me long-term suffering. I’m sure I will be talking about that more later. If you notice you are having a reaction to a word, story, or experience along the way, a tool I love is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It’s also referred to as Tapping. There are multiple Tapping apps and websites that I will be sharing with you along the way, but it’s a technique that helps us not be the prisoner of our stories, with a whole lot of scientific data to back it up.
I’m excited to be diving into this new adventure. We will just see where it takes us! I Will be posting new episodes every Wednesday on FromALovingPlace.com and on the From A Loving Place podcast on Fridays. In the meantime, I hope you will explore FromALovingPlace.com and for my women followers, get your copy of Letters from a Better Me: How Becoming an Empowered Woman Transforms the World in your preferred format. Thanks for being with me. Until next time…
With Love and Gratitude,
Rachael Wolff, Author of Letters from a Better Me