Often times, during the writing process, I can get caught up in my thoughts. I become what can only be described as “feverish.”
I get caught up in a loop of thoughts and emotions and solutions and plot points and worries and directions I need to go in and directions I should avoid and criticisms that need to be addressed and shortcomings that need to be improved upon and accomplishments that need to be acknowledged and conflicts that need to be resolved and places I need to be and people I need to meet and things I must prepare for and things that are out of my control but that I must accept and tasks that need to be accomplished and mysteries that need to be solved and unsolvable mysteries that I need to make peace with and… and… and…
When I become feverish it’s over: there is no way I can make positive progress. I don’t know where I am and I don’t know where I need to go. I’m stuck: caught up in a net of thoughts, a merry-go-round of feelings and sensations–a spinning wheel of actions and reactions that don’t result in positive solutions.
There is no hope for me there in that feverish state. I am lost.
Here is when I usually do two things that finally release me from my fever trap:
I stop and listen.
For a moment, there is silence.
And then, eventually, the answer comes. And it’s usually a simple and straightforward answer. That’s when I suddenly realize that I’ve been standing, or sitting, or doing nothing but thinking. Or, I suddenly realize that I’ve been doing a lot of “something” but none of it has been productive.
But luckily, now that I’ve stopped and listened, the way is clear. I can move forward now.
We Live In A Culture That Does Not Appreciate The Power of Listening
We have become a culture that prizes talking over listening. Thinking over stopping.
Talking and doing are seen as more admirable than stopping and listening. In fact, stopping and listening are both seen as a threat to our overall “efficiency.”
The argument against stopping and listening goes something like this:
“We don’t have time to ‘stop and listen’ anymore. We have to go, go, go. We have to think, think, think. We have to talk, talk, talk.”
If we have a big problem to solve, we either have to do something about it, think about it, or talk about it–until we’re completely out of breath–in order to arrive at a solution.
But how can we do something about a problem–how can we think about a problem–how can we even talk about a problem if we don’t even know what the problem is? We need to be certain about what the problem is before we can even begin to think, talk, or do something about it. We need to uncover the real problem before we can even begin to solve it.
And how do we figure out what the real problem is?
We stop and listen.
Listening will help us figure out the source of our current dilemma. But without listening, we cannot solve the problem.
Sure we can think, talk, and do our way through a problem we don’t completely understand, but then all that thinking, talking, and doing will not arrive at a positive, constructive solution. Such doing, thinking, and talking without listening is completely inefficient.
Therefore, it’s wrong to assume that we “don’t have the time to stop and listen anymore.” The truth is that we can no longer afford NOT to stop and listen.
Stop and Listen.
Listening is a very underestimated tool in life.
Listening can even save your life.
If you, like me, tend to get into a state of thinking, talking, and doing that could only be described as “feverish,” then maybe what you need to do is stop and listen.
If you stop and listen, you might be able to hear your body telling you:
“Hey: I’m exhausted. You’ve been going without a good night’s sleep for days. I’m not gonna let you be productive unless you give me a rest.”
If you stop and listen, you might be able to hear your heart tell you:
“Hey, I’m broken. I’m not gonna let you do any work unless you shed some tears first (and process all this sadness that’s been weighing us down).”
If you stop and listen, you might hear your community tell you:
“Hey, where have you been? I’m not gonna let you go back into that cave, alone and buried deep in your work for weeks on end, unless you spend some quality time with me.”
If you stop and listen, you might hear your spirit tell you:
“Hey, where are you going? You know that this is not the way. I’m not gonna let you put your energy into something that does not serve your purpose in this life. So, I’m gonna tug you away from this false path until you honor me.”
Ahhh. See how listening will help you properly diagnose the problem, and offer you a clear path to the solution?
Sometimes our current challenge appears to have only a complex solution. But, more often than not, we can solve our current challenge by doing something that’s infinitely simple and straightforward:
We can stop and listen.
Today’s Courage Exercise
Stop and listen.
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