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We Should Stop Saying “Should”

Photo: Bellingham Bay, by Leilani Norman

We all have our opinions and some of them are valid and perhaps even useful. I notice that certain words and phrases tend to be emotionally charged. For example, the words, “never” and “always” tend to be employed when we’re telling someone, (including ourselves) how uncomfortable we are about something. How many times have I uttered the phase, “I always have to _____” Or, “You never _____”? Sound familiar? This has rolled out of my mouth plenty of times.

The phrase that has caught my attention recently is, “You should”, or “They should”. Are we helping by offering our opinions (I’m guilty of this!)? Or is listening with a calm and open mind what’s needed?

Thich Nhat Hanh talked about deep listening, when he said, “ Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.” Excerpted from an interview with Oprah Winfrey:

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