Have you ever wondered why you are drawn to certain people in your life—I mean in an overwhelmingly positive way?
Is it their charisma?
Is it their charm or their intelligence?
Or maybe it’s the way they make you feel?
I would say that, for me, it has most often been the case that I am drawn to people who project hope in some way or another.
Let me explain.
Books and various periodicals on leadership, psychology, motivational speaking, teaching, and sales, among others, often expound upon the importance of how we human beings leave each other feeling after we interact with one another.
And there is often an agenda (not necessarily always a bad thing, despite the connotation of the word), spoken or unspoken, behind wanting to make people feel a certain way—whether that be ultimately to teach, to sell, or to motivate and lead.
But how about a version of this same phenomenon in a slightly different dimension—of wanting to give hope in a different way and for a different purpose?
In other words, with different intentionality.
I know two things: the first is that when people receive hope, it has a healing effect on their souls; it helps activate in them their finest courage, their most boundless energy, and their greatest creativity. It feeds them and sustains them.
The second thing I know is that the giver of hope also receives these very same gifts.
I know these things to be true because we’ve all been children and we can all remember at least a few people in our respective childhoods who made us feel good about ourselves and who fed us in these ways.
They made us feel inflated, more centered and strong, more loved and more loving. They gave us hope, and, in a moment, I’m going to explain how they did this and how we can give hope to others as well.
But first, I also know these things to be true because many of us are now parents of children, and we can recall times when we’ve felt sustained and fed by giving selflessly to our children; by giving them hope.
Both giver and recipient benefit.
We can give hope to one another by following a few simple, daily steps:
Listening is a true discipline and it not only requires daily practice, (yes, at home with our families as well!), but doing so also causes a deep and profound rewiring in us.
That is, by teaching ourselves to habitually gear our topmost energies towards Listening, whether at home or out in the world, we are already on our way to helping others feel more hopeful by giving them our receptive intentionality; i.e. first, we are receiving them, with whatever they are bringing us.
At the same time, that very rewiring helps us as well.
Because an awful lot of the Comments we make to our spouses, to our children, to our colleagues, and to our coworkers are ultimately expressions of our lack of hope or our insecurities and anxieties.
Think about it: Most of the time when we speak, unless we are teaching something specific like a language, we are doing so because of a series of internal, emotional reactions which have ultimately led to the act of making a Comment.
Commenting is most often a form of reacting. In other words it’s most often, and ultimately, about us, not the other person.
And our fellow humans can sense this.
On the other hand, when we Listen, we are gearing our energies, in a disciplined way, to the other person—and this transmits and projects hope.
So when I’m with someone who is filled with anxiety, worry, or self-doubt, I Listen.
When I’m with someone who seems eager to argue, I Listen.
When I don’t know what to say or how to help or what someone wants from me, I Listen.
Listening gives hope, and it often does so without a word.
It is the intention of Listening which is communicated subconsciously and which does the healing—the intention of practicing the discipline of Listening rather than reacting via premature or immediate Comments.
In closing, I’ll share with you a mnemonic I made up some years ago to help me remind myself of these things.
It goes like this:
L.V.A.C. (pronounced “L-VAC”)=Listen first, then Validate feelings, then Ask open-ended questions, THEN Comment, if necessary at all.
Follow the first step always my friends, and the rest when you can.
We all have the power to help others heal by giving them hope within the shadow of our passing presence in their lives, however brief or long it might be.
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand A Few Things First)
Cobwebs and Ugly Wallpaper