The Power Of A Listening Heart

listening-heartPeople don’t need fixing or lecturing. The most basic human need is to feel understood. When we are listened to we feel heard and cared about… allows us safety and helps us to understand ourselves better and to expand into who we really are.  —Brenda Strausz

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, making us unfold and expand.—Anonymous

Last week, I was worried about a few things going on in my life. A friend happened to call and I cried on her shoulder as I talked about my worries and concerns. I know she felt genuinely sad for my pain but instead of listening she jumped in and gave me advice on what I should do and should not do. It wasn’t advice that I needed…I longed to be heard. I hung up the phone feeling empty and alone.

I thought back to last summer when I was trying to arrange a family vacation to Mexico. It was getting more and more expensive as I checked out ocean-side lodging and flights. I began feeling almost panicky  I berated myself for being indecisive, for not being wealthier, for not searching sooner. My stomach started to hurt and I was feeling queasy. In the evening I called my daughter to discuss my trip planning (and my distress) with her. Many daughters would have said something like, “Just chill out, mom, you’re making a big deal out of this”. But Jenny just listened. She gently validated my frustration and my fears. She let me talk . . . the more she listened, the more I talked and the more relief I felt as I was able to express myself fully. She asked gentle questions that helped me to see that I was creating my own chaos. A wonderful calmness came over me as I basked in the comfort of feeling not just loved but understood.

It is sad how rarely we really listen to each other. How often we rush in with advice and lectures and judgements that confuse and dis-empower  I remind myself daily not to jump in and fix other people but to be a loving presence who understands the awesome power of a listening heart.

Brenda Strausz is a holistic therapist with a practice in Southfield, Michigan. She uses both conventional and alternative methods like Hypnotherapy and Emotional Freedom Techniques in her practice. She believes strongly in the healing power of love and forgiveness. She can be reached through her website at: or at

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  1. Brenda, how well I understand this heart wrenching post—it is very true, however, and very pathetic. Most people have never learned true listening skills, or even reading skills, as in e-mails sent that are only partially addressed if addressed at all. I don’t know if high technology, the state of the economy, the odd weather patterns or what is underlying what I like to label ‘self-absorption.” I just shed three close friends who did this to me, far too frequently. I was not being callous, but I allowed them to strip away my self-identity. I was aware when I was speaking, they were focusing on what they were going to say next, and they never addressed any of my concerns, fears or questions. However, they were more than willing to lay their issues on my shoulders. And then I have met with others like your friend, who are quick to offer advice that may actually be injurious. Frankly, I suspect you and I would make ‘best friends.’ I know it is easy to vent or dump on kind hearted people, and I have been guility of doing just this, but I catch myself and force myself to make eye contact, focus on the individual and just listen. I am never judgemental and I try so hard to empathize. You are right; we all need to be heard, we all need to have validation, and you are so very fortunate to have such a wonderfully intuitive daughter.
    If you ever need me, just let me know.

  2. Shen, I think we need Listening 101 taught in every High one teaches us these things…sometimes we learn them ourselves and sometimes we never do…

    I hope now that you have shedded injurious people from your life you will attract people with big hearts and wonderful spirits…

    Take care of yourself!


  3. Joan Feldman says:

    Brenda, You are the living example of what you are advising. You always listen with a gentle heart and a creative and healing mind. It is one of your special gifts as a therapist and a friend and I, for one, am most appreciative.

  4. Joan, you are also a wonderful example of listening with your heart and soul. I am so lucky to people like you around who know how to be present!!

    Take care of you!

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