Has anyone ever said, "You aren't listening to me!"
Its taken years but I have realized exactly what is being said and why it is being said.
First off there are two levels of the statement. The first is said in anger: "You never listen to me!" or "You aren't listening to me!"
The second form, a minor form if you will, presents itself with frustration and a phrase like, "I just want you to listen! Why are you always trying to fix my problems! I don't want your help, I just want you to listen!"
This is the subtle form. They don't seem related upon first inspection, but let me show you how I broke them down and found the underlying causes of the attitudes.
For each phrase, I asked myself the question, "why do I say this?"
For the first statement, "You aren't listening to me!" I realized that I say this when I'm angry about not getting my way. This version of the statement translates roughly to, "You aren't doing what I tell you to do!" Its the control freak's war cry. Please note: everyone I know, has this control freak within them. There are some who rely on that demon more than others but everyone has it, so I'm not actually labeling individuals as control freaks. I'm talking about an aspect of mind.
Why do I care if I get my way? Obviously when I talk that way I'm being selfish, but why? I had to dig real deep within myself to find it because It comes from the three year old's mind, the child that always wants his way. But why does the three year old always want his way? I just kept digging and digging until I realized that under the anger which arises from "not being heard" and the desire to control is a sense of fear. What am I so afraid of?
I'm afraid of being hurt. I was hurt in the past, when I was a child, and now I fear being hurt again. Someone in my life taught me that the only way to not be hurt is to control, and by controlling me they hurt me and taught me to want to control.
Knowing this doesn't really help remove the underlying cause, but finding the cause did help. Its like shining a flashlight in a dark corner of my mind, seeing the mean old monster and then turning up the intensity of the light so that even the mean old monster becomes transparent revealing behind him a little child who hurts because he was controlled with anger.
For the second statement, "I just want you to listen to me! Stop trying to fix me!" I project myself into the position where I'm venting my feelings. I feel hurt, confused, angry, lost, upset, or any of a plethora of emotions, often all at the same time. I ask myself why do I want to vent? What do I hope to accomplish?
At first it seems like I'm just trying to get out all these horrible feelings that are bottled up inside. Like I just need to let go of all the junk from my day. But again, if I dig deeper I realize that the purpose is not really to get the emotions out, because expressing them does not really allow me to release them. You know how I know? Because they come back over and over again and I have to vent them again and again. If expressing them actually released them from my soul, so to speak, then they'd not haunt me like ghosts of my past. But they do. I've paid attention and I see them returning time and time again. The same frustration, anger, disappointment and resentment builds up and I feel a need to vent.
So that lead me to the question, "If venting doesn't actually help me, other than to make me feel better in the moment, what is the purpose of the venting?"
Its a tough question because to find the answer I had to really dig deep and face a lot of "darkness" within myself.
I realized after a great deal of introspection that the goal of venting is to spread the emotions around. Spreading them appeases them but doesn't actually send them away. The goal of those emotions is to cause others to feel the same emotion that I'm feeling, to spread the misery so to speak. These demons of the mind wish to propagate to others.
"Where do these feelings come from?" was the next question.
Once again we see that the source is someone or a bunch of others who did the same thing to me. Do you see how if we vent on others, we spread our pain to them and thus harm them. They accept the harm and it settles into them then they deny it because as children we have to trust the adults in our lives or we become non-functional. We lie to ourselves and say that we are loved -- which is true -- but deny the hurt perpetrated on us by those we love. We don't understand that they can love us and we can love them and still hurt each other. So we keep the ideal in our heads and deny the pain caused to us. The denial causes a shadow in our mind, within it lies the demon guard and behind him lies the hurt.
It all came down again to fear of being hurt. I seek to vent because I don't want to face the fact that someone vented at me and hurt me a long time ago.
See how the forms of "you don't listen" are related? They are both born of deep seated fears.
So, lets say for the sake of argument that you're at least open to the possibility that this is true for you as it is for me. The question arises, "What can be done?"
The answer is simple. Stop yourself from saying the phrase, "You never listen to me!" and never allow yourself to vent your feelings on another being.
Don't believe what I've written here? Or perhaps my words aren't clear enough and you don't understand? Just try an experiment.
Stop yourself when you want to say, "You don't listen!" Then see how you feel. Stand completely quietly and do nothing as soon as the thought enters your mind. If you can stand still even an instant the amount of emotion you feel will rise exponentially and for a moment you might feel lost in it. If you can stay that way you will shine a light on the fear and face it. God willing, it will stay illuminated and never affect your actions again.
Or, if you the sort of person that vents, just stop venting. If you think it really means nothing, then stopping should be no problem, right? If it really doesn't harm the person who's listening then stopping it will have no affect on you, right?
Once again, trying to stop yourself from venting will cause an upwelling of emotion and that will prove that you need to vent and that need arises from someplace you probably don't know very well and don't want to know.
Face those feelings and you will free yourself of that fear and free your loved ones of the abuses you perpetrate in the name of "venting."
This is one of my hard fought lessons. I hope it makes some sense.
Thanks for reading.
Causes Brian McKee Supports
I support the cause of peace via peaceful means.