Sunday, 6 November 2016
Day 6 the superpower I would choose is compassionate listening
Day 6 HAWMC what would be the super power you would wish to have?
Be careful what you wish for was the caution that came to mind when I read today's prompt. Initially what came to mind was that the power to ensure happiness and freedom from pain is the power I would like. But can we be happy all the time? Do we need darker times to help us recognise, value and protect the happier one. I would certainly like us all to be free of chronic pain as it has such an all encompassing impact on quality of life- but pain in itself could be a superpower. Pain, both physical and emotional, can teach us how to keep ourselves safe from harm. Sometimes the most harmful thing we can do is ignore when we are in pain and to keep going, to push through. I speak from expereince here! So pain can be our teacher if we are listening to it.
That leads me to listening as a super power. As a health activist so often the loud call is to be heard properly within the system of health care; to be listened to throughout the process of the need for care at all ages and stages. Too often it seems people are listening to respond rather than to really hear what's being said; including the music behind the words themselves. To truly listen is a superpower for care professionals.
But let's be honest there's even more at stake here. We live in troubled times across our world, where opinion seems increasingly polarised, which pushes us to choose a side, to solidify our beliefs rather than to remain open to listening and questioning. But that process of polarising means we hear each other less and increase the process of "othering" and in so doing this decreases compassion. The definition of compassion is to be alongside someone in their pain, to bear witness and with a desire to alleviate their suffering. Divisions in society reduce compassion and consequently the stability of our communities and nations. I know I'm not alone in being deeply worried by this time which seems to threaten so much. I'm trying not to catastrophise but if I'm very honest I'm fearful of the future.
So the super power I would wish for is not just listening but compassionate listening: listening with compassion to each other, and not just to the words that are spoken but to the fears and hopes that's those words represent. And to truly respond with compassion. It's a big ask I know but if we don't do that, what's the alternative?