“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”
David W. Augsburger
The motivation to write this article came a few days ago, while chatting with a mom who completed my Clean Parenting program about a year ago, and reached out to me because she was really struggling.
At first, I thought she was in a really bad place.
But, as our conversation unfolded, it became very clear that she knew exactly what to do, and was, in fact, already doing most of what was needed to regain the balance, the family homeostasis, that she had attained last year by the end of the program.
All she had been lacking was the distance from which to look at her life, and an objective, safe and supportive space in which to think through what she wanted and needed to do to bring her family back to homeostasis.
(And for me to teach her how to nurse her new baby in the sling, but that’s a completely different topic. ☺)
This conversation reminded me of how much I'd been wanting to find a way to connect all my Clean Parenting program graduates who would love and deeply benefit from a listening partnership with another graduate who also has the exact same parenting foundation, beliefs and expertise, and is also committed to a life of authenticity and integrity.
I started my current listening partnership myself about 3 or 4 years ago, after being connected with the wonderful Dana DaPonte by a mutual acquaintance on some random Facebook post. (I owe this woman so much for connecting me with Dana, and I don’t even remember her name!!)
We've been meeting weekly on Skype for most of this time, and our meetings are one of the most important support I have in my life.
They help me:
My meetings with Dana are one of the things I most look forward to each week. And are valuable to me no matter what mood I'm in, whether I'm high on life or in despair, or anything in between.
We talk business.
We talk about our children.
Our breakdowns and breakthroughs.
We talk health issues.
We bitch about stuff.
Whatever is needed to clear our energy and align with the life we want.
We really listen to each other and we get to empty our hearts in an exquisitely safe space (not unlike the beautiful process Sofia taught us to do with our children in my last article.)
And in the process of those weekly meetings, we have become cherished friends... ♥
So now, on to you.
How does the idea of you finding your own Dana, your own perfect match for a listening partnership sound to you?
How does the idea of being able to count on a trusted ear and safe listening space every week (or at whatever frequency you choose) sound to you?
My beautiful wonderful wise Dana. ♥
She's also the person I've been doing weekly healing sessions with for about 7 months now (in addition to our other weekly meetings) and she's amazing at that as well.
You can check out her website and her work here.
If you've done my Quick Start or Clean Parenting program (or have been contemplating signing up for one of them,) listening partnerships are now a feature for graduates of those programs. So if you've completed one of them, just contact me and I’ll get you set up for one.
For the rest of you, think of someone you really enjoy, has similar values, is a good listener, and likes to talk about real stuff.
And who you would love to become close friends with, because this will likely happen, if you are a good fit for each other.
Then, TAKE A RISK!!
And ask if she/he would be interested in trying this with you.
If this scares you, remember that most of the greatest things we have in our lives come through stretching way out of our comfort zones and risking.
Below are several guidelines and ideas for you, tips I've picked up in my 6ish years experience with having two thriving long term listening partnerships, to support you in creating a successful one of your own.
AN IMPORTANT SUGGESTION
Do not feel obligated to stay in a listening partnership that doesn’t feel like a perfect fit!
One way to avoid the discomfort of having to ‘break up’ with someone, if you’re not 100% sure when first contacting them that they’re going to be a perfect fit, is to let them know that this is a trial for you, and that you’re trying it with a few people you like in your life, to see who’s the best fit. And maybe suggest to them, if they’re also very interested in having a listening partnership in their lives, to do the same.
Even if you don’t continue the practice with this person, you may still have giving them a beautiful gift in exposing them to listening partnerships, and they might go on to create one with someone else, who WILL be a perfect fit for them, and with whom they might be better served and connect better than they would have with you.
If you don’t find someone right away, keep trying. It’s kinda like with marriage. You generally have to date several people before finding your mate.
So if one doesn’t work out after a few weeks or months, just like with romantic relationships, put on your big girl pants and end it kindly. Though breaking up is always uncomfortable, just like with ripping off a bandaid, the discomfort is very short lived if you do it right away. It’s the anticipation of it and the stretching it out that make it most painful.
And once you do end it, you get to be in integrity with yourself, move on in your life in a direction that feels true for you and are free to go on and find your Dana.
General Instructions for Listening Partnerships
Here are some suggestions to help you make the most of your partnership.
But they are just suggestions, based on my experience. Use them as guidelines to get started, and then feel into what will best serve you and your partner. As always trust your instincts if you feel that something different is called for and would be of greater benefit.
FORMAT FOR THE MEETINGS
I’ve had two listening partnerships of at least two years each, and used different formats for each one.
You can choose one of them as is or use them as inspiration to create what will most support your duo and you’ll most enjoy, adding and removing elements until it’s such that you both can’t wait to meet each week. ☺
I used this format with my engineer friend, when we were supporting each other in building our practices.
You could use it if you have a specific focus, like achieving your parenting intention or meeting for parenting support:
1. Take 5 minutes each for check in. Use this time to connect and share whatever you’d like, both to initially connect and as well as to express whatever needs to be gotten out of the way so you can turn your focus to your intention for the rest of the call.
2. Decide who will speak first and set a timer for 20 minutes (or just keep track of the time.)
3. The person who speaks answers the following questions:
I use this one with Dana, my woo woo friend, who had to add her spiritual touch to what I’d previously created. ☺
1. Visioning: Use this time to create a vision of what you’d like your life to be. If you’re like Dana, you can keep refining the same vision every week, to make it more and more precise and alive. If you’re like me, you can change it up each time, depending on where you’re at in your life, what you’re dealing with or longing for that day. What is always true though, is speaking about it in present time, as though you’re already living it, and trying, as much as possible, to connect with the feeling experience of it.
2. Decide who will speak first and set a timer for 20 minutes (or just keep track of the time.)
3. The first speaker either speaks freely, about whatever they feel moved to talk about this week, or answers the following questions:
4. Once the 20 minutes is up, switch roles and repeat the questions with the second person.
5. Gratitude: each take just a few seconds or minutes to name what you’re grateful for.
GUIDELINES FOR THE CALL
“Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of the other person. You listen with only one purpose: help him or her to empty his heart.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Some of these guidelines might feel awkward and new to you, but I highly recommend trying to follow them at first, so you can get a sense of the power of that kind of setting, before deciding to make changes to it:
I wonder if you’re able to get a sense, from reading this article, of just how powerful having this kind of support in your life could be.
How transformational to your life it could be to have a dependable practice where you regularly and proactively empty your heart in the loving presence of a good listener (not unlike the practice for children described in my last article!)
Where you proactively think about what you want for your life for yourself and what’s not working.
Where you get practical about what’s needed in it now, what’s blocking you, and how to address those blocks.
Where you can create and heal your life systematically and on purpose.
Writing this article, what came to me is that a listening partnership is a soul feeding gift that we give ourselves.
If this in any way resonates with you, I sincerely hope you'll put in the work to create one for yourself.
And if you’ve been eyeing my Clean Parenting program for a while, or didn’t know about it but are also interested in receiving very effective support in creating family homeostasis in your family, email me and we’ll chat about if this program is right for you. And if it is, and you complete it, then I will get you set you up with a listening partnership with another CPP grad. ♥
Lots of love to you,
Here's what ONE mom wrote to me after completing the CLEAN PARENTING™ program:
"I feel like you saved me and now I can finally be the parent I want to be and raise my daughters to be whole and happy.
Thank you for making a huge difference in my life and the life of my children. I will be forever grateful to you for sharing this life-changing information with me. You put me on the path to have a wonderful, healthy life with my daughters and I just cannot begin to thank you enough. You have given me the greatest gift and I will cherish it always."