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Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Listener

I find it interesting... fascinating really that I can go about living my life these days and when I start acting in a manner reminiscent of my old behavior...I start to feel, er...recognize it from the "inside out". My conscience? Sure I think that is part of it...especially if I am acting jealous or mean-spirited, angry, resentful, manipulative and other similar, upsetting behaviour. Recognizing that is easier. It is the more subtle less, noticeable reactions that are harder to catch and therefore correct.

Like if I start to become more judgemental for instance. That is a tough one for me and it is significant. I was very judgemental about certain aspects of life and specifically people in the past, even while I could be rather open-minded in some other areas of my life. Often this manifests itself in sort of a "routine" self-assurance that I just know what is right and what is wrong. As a result I start to sub-consciously "tune-out" what other people say. In short I stop listening.

Listening to others, I mean truly listening to them is just plain hard for me in any circumstance. That has not be something that was easy for me to admit or accept. And it has been really difficult for me to over come. I do have a sincere desire to be a better listener but I am finding out that it is really hard.

I am more controlling, more arrogant, selfish/self oriented then I expected to be at this point in my life, especially considering that I have honestly worked on these issues (let's call them character defects) diligently since shortly after getting and staying sober. So it has been an unpleasant realization to discover how much work I have to do but if I am truly going to be honest, it should not surprise me. No I had many years of practice living this way...of perfecting this selfish behavior. 

It is a hard habit and mind-set to break but it is important, so important to do. I sincerely desire to live a life of humility. I want to be a humble man and it is so important to the life I desire to be so. Humility goes against MY natural grain it seems, it is the opposite of what I have always been: needy, an attention seeker, a man who dominates conversations, a poor listener and so on.

Another relevant question is how can I truly seek this humility when I write a blog about myself? It seems impossible to reconcile the two but the reality is a bit easier then I expected. Yes, I write about myself here on Shell Shock Serenade every single day but the content, what I am saying about myself and how I am actually saying it determines whether I can actually be humble at the same time.

If I am open about my faults, weakness and short-comings then I think it is possible. I often have used myself as an example of "what not to do". This exercise in itself can be very humbling yet it remains a positive experience because I am open and honest about how I can over-come those shortcomings. Ultimately I believe that the story will tell itself if I am able to be continually open and brutally honest with myself and with readers.

It is hard for me to honestly express how much I want to change my behavior without coming across as a nut or seeming unrealistic. Some may wonder why I appear so hard on myself...well it gets harder and harder to look myself in the mirror when I am knowingly not living up to the simple expectations for kindness, acceptance, honesty, forgiveness, helpfulness, etc that I have come to believe necessary to be a good servant and representative of my God. I just fall short..and today that is not OK. I feel moved to do better and that is a daily Call To ACTION!

I believe in my Heart that I can be better because I HAVE been better at times so I know it is definately possible. I witness people everyday that live the life I aspire to live, they are doing it day in and day out so it is possible...they help and inspire me through their example. I am not trying to act falsely humble nor am I being too hard on myself. I believe it is achievable in small daily doses and can then build off that foundation. I shall not discouraged though it would be easy to do so when struggle when I think I should have this figured out by now....

It has always been a struggle to allow myself to just be human. I am not perfect...that isn't an excuse but a simple truth. I just need to reflect, meditate and pray for that open mind, for awareness and the strength, fortitude and ability to listen. That is where I must start on each days journey to become a good listener. That is a cornerstone block in this foundation...become a listener. To care enough about others to hold my tongue.

Honestly I almost find it funny that desiring humility, aspiring to be a more caring and loving friend is not a it is a privilege and I am trying hard to earn it each and every day.

(Painting by Claude Monet)