Thursday, December 12, 2013

Listen

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." -Stephen R. Covey

This quote appeared in my feed this morning and it had too much of a semblance to something I told someone the other day for me to resist blogging about it. A couple of days ago, my mother and I got into a huge fight. I was livid, she was miserable, she bribed me with food, and I forgave her (sorry, food is nice!). Things were back to normal- that was, until she did another thing behind my back 'for my own good' and admitted to doing it via text. I'm not going to go into detail about it, because this is not what it is about, but basically, it supported an idea that was forming in my head after the fight. An idea I already had monologues about.

This theory was about my mother in particular, and it explained why she kept... forgetting about certain things she did that bugged me (be this in small acts or big acts) even after she'd promised never to do them again. I thought I was the only one who possessed this flaw, and my family certainly painted it to be so. However, I realized that my mother has for the longest time, but her acts, unlike mine, often go under the radar.

The first proof of this is a very simple and common occurrence. Sometimes I'd tell her something, she'd nod, and we'd think we understood each other perfectly. Then, a few days from that, we'd be arguing over what had really passed between us- with a lot of you-said-I-said's.

The second one wasn't very obvious at first, but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. You see, there's a pattern I've come to notice during the times I get upset with my mom. I'd act very coldly towards her, she'd beg me to forgive her, and when I don't, she'd start crying, which would prompt me to do so. I'm not saying my mother has crocodile tears, or uses them as a strategy, because her tears and the emotions behind them are 100% real. What I'm saying is that the last time she cried in front of me (which was over my Coloring pencils, check out the other post), she was talking about her struggles and how stressed she was at the office and at home, how horrible the feeling was. Perhaps my mother is one of those people who are perpetually stressed and slightly depressed.

And you know what? Every time she did cry and released these suppressed emotions in front of me, she was talking about herself. I don't mean to be insensitive, but I would be lying if I said I didn't grow tired of her excuses. They don't affect me as much as they used to, even though I don't doubt the truth in what she is saying (most of the workload usually falls on my mom, as my dad is a happy-go-lucky fellow who strolls in the mall everyday). But honestly... talking about your own horrible feelings to someone who is also feeling awful doesn't always work. Sometimes, the person doesn't want to hear about your crappy life story. Most of the time, the person just wants you to leave her alone or apologize.

And so, a day after the event, I came to a realization, and two days after the event, I replied to her text with this:
You hear what I say but you don't listen. That's why you keep doing the same things to me.

Of course, things are all right now. I wasn't really that mad at mom anymore. Hopefully, she'll start listening more to me this time around.

I do believe that this mentality applies to humans in general. We are narcissists and care about things that concern ourselves. I assume this is something natural and goes all the way back to Charles Darwin's  theory or that popular phrase everyone's heard a thousand times- that you need to look out for yourself in order to survive.

But this has also given me a new view on everyone around me- my family, friends, classmates, and teachers. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. I shall observe them and find out just what kind of people they are.

XOXO
Bea