Do You Ever Feel Unappreciated? Not Listened To? Well, There’s a Simple Solution
Why doesn’t he listen to me?
Do you ever get the feeling that you’re talking and someone isn’t listening?
Or that your work is unappreciated?
It happens to me in my relationship. Not all the time, and it isn’t a factor of whether he is actually listening, it’s totally related to whether the distraction bothers me or not.
I know I’m not alone in this. I have clients and friends who complain that their children don’t appreciate them,
Look at this fabulous meal I cooked for you!
Or who never get noticed at work,
My boss never notices when I go above and beyond!
Or who feel unappreciated for the time and energy they spend volunteering,
No-one cares! Why should I bother?
We think it’s about them; about the person who doesn’t appreciate / listen / respect / value us…
If only that person could…
We hear ourselves saying.
But that’s not really what’s going on. And, until we know the cause, we can’t work on a solution.
What About ‘Boundaries’?
Some coaches would tell you it’s about boundaries. About setting in place rules and restrictions to limit how much you give, what you should and shouldn’t do, and even which people to let into your life.
Or they might tell you that you have to make the other person understand how you feel, that a good heart to heart is the solution.
And sometimes those things work, but never for the reasons we think.
Because, you see, it’s never about the other person.
We live our lives through the stories our mind creates and the way we feel is inextricably entwined with those thoughts.
I can’t possibly feel irritated at my husband without the entanglement of an irritated state of mind. The irritation comes from me, not from him. If it was caused by him and the way he was (wasn’t) listening, then why, at other times, would I feel compassion for his distraction, or a sense of love and understanding at the disorientation of his own emotional experience?
Life is never fixed; our feelings are never fixed.
In that single moment I feel irritated and, if I look outward for a cause, I’m sure to find one — there are plenty of people and circumstances to ‘blame’ if I choose to look.
But when I know my irritation is coming from me, then there is nothing to look for and only myself to settle down.
What Do You Already Know?
Sometimes we have a sense of this, which is why we seek out a moment alone to ‘calm down’. It’s why we cultivate a peaceful state of mind through mindfulness and meditation.
We know that no good comes from acting out of anger and that the world will look different ‘in the morning’.
But what’s going on here? And why wait until the morning? If the cause is never what it looks like then why not drop the stories as soon as we see them for what they are?
Is it because we hang on to a remnant of an identity we associate with our stories? Is it because we don’t know who we’d be without them? That we’re scared we might lose a sense of self?
But, what if it’s holding on to that sense of ‘self’ that’s keeping us in the bad feeling?
Behind the Stories…
When we drop all our stories about what the outside world is ‘doing’ to us, we can connect with an experience that goes beyond self.
This is why the ‘heart-to-heart’ conversation works. Not because we’re explaining ourselves, or being heard, but because we’re bathing ourselves, and the other person, momentarily, in pure, unconditional love.
It’s love that brings the good feeling, and love that’s waiting beneath the narrative. When we sense it, we are sensing something that is present for all of us, and any divisions between us no longer exist.
When we keep ourselves absorbed in the smallness of our stories, we push away that deep peace of mind — a peace of mind that seems to heal all wounds, that gives us a clarity, a state of conscious awareness, a feeling of what the ancients might have called ‘enlightenment’.
…Is Everything We Ever Need
‘Enlightenment’, if I can stay with this word, isn’t something mystical, although the word certainly suggests it. We probably prefer to call it flow, quiet, calm, happiness, love.
Whatever word you use, it isn’t a place to reach after many years of meditation, or a psychedelic drug experience. It’s something that is describing a state we all fall into when we let go of our attachment to creating meaning from the outside.
The dictionary definition of enlightenment talks about understanding. And I know, when I feel as if I’m not being listened to, I’ve fallen out of my understanding of life.
I’ve fallen out of ‘love’ and I’m caught in a holographic representation of what I’m thinking. I’m living a dream-like version of a story, rather than seeing what’s true.
The Feeling of Being Alive
My husband likes to talk about finding the joy in everything and I know what he means by that.
He doesn’t pay attention to whatever he thinks about the task in front of him — sure, some things he finds boring, but why bother to ‘think’ that when he can simply think something else? He knows what we all know, which is how to absorb himself in the experience of being alive. When we do this we lose judgement and we lose our stories.
And that, my friend, is the very thing that wakes us up to the feeling of being alive.
Who could possibly want more than that?