Listening with a discerning spirit.

My wife has a saying, “opinions are like assholes, we all have them, and they stink.” So perhaps that was not the most spiritual way to start with what is in my heart today, but in many respects, it is true. It seems to me that way too often in my life, I have listened to and internalized the opinions of others without question. It took me a while to come to the place in my life when I changed the way I listen to the world. There were a few things that catapulted me into being a more critical and skeptical listener. One was a book by Henri Nouwen, Living a Sacred Life in a Secular World. He wrote about how when people criticize us or say something negative about us, we tend to internalize it as if it were fact. Conversely, when someone pays a compliment or gives us an affirmation, we question there motives behind that. What do they want? Why are they saying these things? He challenged me to begin changing the way I listened to things. I began critically thinking about and listening to everything that was said the positive and the negative. I worked on no longer believing someone because they said it; especially if it were someone, I considered an authority figure.
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