Do You Need to Listen Better?
It always amazes me how our own defects hide from us. We can advise others on the exact same issue we have (and often do), but not realize we need to take our own advice. What am I referring to? Recently, I told you that my daughter, Maddie ( 16), had gone to visit her dad in Pennsylvania and had decided to forego our annual vacation. This hurt my feelings. She also indicated on 7/16 that she might even remain living there if she got along with her dad. Blow #2! Then last Wednesday while vacationing in Arizona, Maddie very nonchalantly responds to one of my texts, asking how she is, and says her dad is asking her to go to school there.
This began discussions with Maddie, her dad and her step mom. I didn't think I was pressuring her when I talked to her. I told her to decide what was in her highest good. I really didn't have much chance to even speak with her on the phone. There was a big part of me that felt that Maddie should live with me because she was into the stuff I teach, holistic healing, metaphysics, alternative therapies, and I could better help her with her cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Admittedly, I felt our home environment was more stable, and I reminded her how important it was to her (she'd told me) to learn and grow in this lifetime, and who better to do this than me.
I had always been able to "push" her out of her complacency. I actually went through a grieving process of trying to accept the fact that she may not come home. I kept thinking of all of the family traditions that we'd had for 16 years and I'd never NOT seen her for long periods of time. And this is the time of year in which we do a lot of fun family activities that she'd always participated in. I also felt resentful that her dad had moved so far away, and now I would be the one to have to pay for his decision. I know much of this sounds immature, but it is how I felt. So after going back and forth for days, Maddie finally decided on Monday of this past week to come back home.
She arrived on Wednesday night, missing her first day of school. I had a one-to-one meeting set up weeks before with a relationship coach on Tuesday, after all of the drama had been decided. After giving her all of the details of the last month and giving her permission to coach me, she gave me a fresh perspective on both my and her dad's interactions with Maddie. She said we'd both been shallow and childish, and neither of us had really listened to Maddie objectively. Wow! That was a blow to my ego.
I certainly wanted to defend my position, but I heard the truth in what she told me. Who am I to say that Maddie is better off with me? We both love her, and she could learn her life lessons there just as easily as here. I just wanted what I wanted. I found it difficult to really listen to Maddie because I thought she was making a mistake. I may have said a lot of the right things to her, but inside, I felt she was trying to avoid my family here. I felt superior to her dad's family. It was good to be reminded of the mirror effect by this coach, that her dad was mirroring back to me a part of me, a selfish part.
Another aspect of Mirroring simply says that what you said is important to me, and I have heard the content of your words, without judging you, blaming you, or finding solutions for you. You might say, "What I hear you saying is...." Then it's helpful to continue to ask, "Did I get it all or is there something more?" Lesson learned. Mirroring encourages the talker to continue since the listener is hearing accurately the words spoken. How might you use mirroring to resolve heated issues with your kids or loved ones? I know I will be practicing it a lot more.
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