Articles and Media

Selective Hearing

by Ana L. Palles

Listen There are times when love fails us. When we lose trust that we will have what we need and find our comfort and support restored. That very basic, gut-level trust, that challenges and pains that appear in our lives, carry important lessons and opportunities to grow and discover our depths.

Trust deserts us because we lose our sense of worth. Suddenly, hearing good things about ourselves brings us pain. We simply cannot hear it, so our ears shut against the words almost as if they were poison.

But it’s not so simple as having lost another’s love. We have lost the love of ourselves.

It is because we feel so unworthy to receive love and caring that not only does our hearing shut down, so we don’t internalize any of the love and appreciation that is sent our way daily, but it goes deeper. We become incapable of receiving at all.

To a casual outside observer, this can read as a lack of gratitude or even arrogance. Many times, though, the opposite is actually true. I have seen unfortunate family misunderstandings where parents and children, husbands and wives, were each unaware of the depth of the love each felt. Each person carries the pain for the other, while all along each is wishing with all their might that they could take it all away. Each convinced that the other one couldn’t see or feel them, when in fact, they wept in silence for one another.

It is heart wrenching to watch and we ask ourselves, what is to be done in this situation? How can it be shifted?

I can only offer what I have learned from my own observations and experiences. Sometimes the only thing one can do is have patience, try not to take behaviors personally, and hold a sacred space for that person to find their way. It is a quiet faith that lights a candle in the window of the heart and bless it with the warmth of pure love.

And we instill that deep hope that love can penetrate through the anguish of that loss of worth, just enough so that the first step can be considered and maybe, tentatively, make the choice. That first step is to choose healing for oneself. It is acknowledging that one is worthy enough to allow love. The second step is to slowly, softly, let kindness and light drip into those shut ears. Trust that it is safe to open and flow with it like a balm to the spirit. It is time to discover your own value.

Listen carefully; it is a voice worth hearing.