The Powers I Used Today
The Power of Listening and Paying Attention
I knew if I could get her out of the bed and get her to move around and wash her face, she could let go of a little bit of tortuous knot of paranoid anxiety her confused mind was tangled up in. At first, I tried to reason with her. She tightened up and said that she did not want to be patronized. Finally, I decided to listen to all of what she had to say without judging or trying to fix it. As she spoke she relaxed. I did not interrupt or remove my gaze from her face, just listened with all of my attention on her and what she was saying. Finally, she said, “Thank you for listening, I think I would like to go wash my face and brush my teeth.”
I was able to help her get up and get dressed and take care of a few little things with very few more words. She was still terrified that she was being held against her will in a strange place, but just someone listening to her feelings and thoughts took the edge off the blade of her delusions, and she was able to give herself some peace to move her body and care for herself and let me help her. When I was trying to reason with her I forced her to defend her confused thoughts and hold onto them tighter, but when I listened without judging she was able to let her thoughts move away from her a small distance from her leaving her space to breathe a little and accept what I was offering without surrendering her beliefs.
So often I forget the miraculous power of being present with people and just listening to whatever they have to say.