When we listen to each other we can help - Mind Matters

Dear Everybody,

Now the intelligent and humorous answers to: Why did the Jews wander in the dessert for forty years? … Because even then men couldn’t ask directions. Why does it take millions of sperm to find one egg? … I think the previous question tells you why because men never ask directions. Columbus may have discovered America but … a woman financed the trip.

In a previous article of mine the editors made an error in the title they chose for it; which may have been a Freudian slip. In my article I said, “So folks do the best you can and when you screw up or make a mistake apologize.” The heading of my article said, “Try to apologize.” I emailed my editor Bridget Albert and pointed out the error because I don’t want you to try I want you to do it. Bridget passed the test, as I knew she would as she is a good soul, by emailing me her apology and saying she was “very sorry.” People who care apologize and learn from their mistakes. Those who don’t care always have an excuse or reason which eliminates their guilt. So when you get feedback you don’t like or criticism from family, friends, clients or co-workers say thank you I have learned something and move on to become a better person. Believe me they will appreciate your reaction. I know the best doctors receive criticism from the above groups who help them to appreciate their experience.

You have to be willing to listen to receive comments but there is also another side to listening. Our house is like a museum. Things keep getting put up on the walls and nothing is ever taken down so many decades of article, photos, comic strips and more are posted there. Well the other day I found the following and it hit home for me. It is about the benefits of listening to others and learning to do so yourself.


When I ask you to listen to me and you start 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 problems, you have failed me, as strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I asked was that you listen. Not talk or do … .just hear me.

Advice is cheep: Ten cents will get you Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper. And I can do for myself, I’m not helpless; maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless. When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and weakness.

But, when you accept as a simple fact that I can and do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about the business of understanding what’s behind 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 doesn’t give advice or try to fix things. “They” just listen and let you work it out for 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.

Helen Keller said it all very well; “I have heard of the stars, the rainbows, the play of light on the waves, these I would like to see but far more than sight I wish for my ears to be opened. The voice of a friend, the imaginations of Mozart, life without these is darker by far than blindness.”

When we listen to each other we help the other person to know themselves and what they need to do about whatever problem they face. The nice part is that after listening you get credit for what they discover as the solution. I know this from doing it with friends and family. When I listen they tell me I am a wonderful help and when I tell them what to do they get upset with my advice. So listen to each other.

I think the comment about prayer is also insightful. All prayers are answered. How they are answered may not be to our liking. It would be easier for you if God responded, not with silence, but with an action based upon your request. However, God’s system is also into the listening mode because God is trying to help you grow, redefine and rebirth yourself. So if God didn’t listen but always stepped in to change things you would never give birth to your true self through the labor pains of change which you then experience. If your attempt at change is premature God will give you some help but when the time to deliver is now God just listens so you hear the message.

The following is a quote from Jalaluddin Rumi who often talked about polishing mirrors, which in his time were shiny metal. Criticism polishes your mirror was one of his comments. Each of us sees the Unseen in proportion to the clarity of our heart, and that depends upon how much we have polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more - more Unseen forms become manifest. And then this comment from Eknath Easwaran’s Thought for the Day. As your meditation deepens, there will still be occasions when you get upset, but you will be able to watch what goes on in the lab of your mind. It’s like getting into a glass-bottomed boat, where you venture out onto the ocean and watch all the deep-sea creatures lurking beneath the surface: resentment sharks, stingrays of greed, scurrying schools of fear. You slowly gain a certain amount of detachment from your mind, so you can observe what is going on, collect data, and then set things right. Some of the chronic problems that millions of people suffer from today might be solved by gaining a little detachment from their minds and emotions, so they can stand back a little when the mind is agitated and see the ways in which it makes mountains out of molehills. Many problems simply are not real; they start to seem real only when we dwell on them. The thorniest problems to solve are those that are not real; yet most of us go on giving them our best efforts.

So folks learn to listen to yourselves, which includes your heart and not just your head, and listen to those in need who want your ear.

Please complete the following: Women aren’t perfect 3/4ths of all women … If a hillbilly woman divorces her husband is he … If a man is standing alone in a forest is …


Bernie Siegel, M.D.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Haida Indian Saying

“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting golden delicious.” Bill Meyer

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” Hugh Downs

“If your dog is overweight you need to exercise more.” Arthur Unknown