The need to feel heard

Last night I was reminded of this subject, as I visited a friend who was busily making dinner.   She bustles and putters and chops and spatters, doesn’t respond, and occasionally ‘shows interest’ by asking a ‘clarifying question’.  Or more like a “what was that?” question.   It’s hard to really hear, when you are focused on something else.  I was not being heard – and I felt unheard.

My partner, on the other hand, doesn’t really care if he was heard – doesn’t wonder if he was –just assumes of course he was.   That’s his ‘default’.  Mine is to wait for someone’s attention, as I assume I will not be interesting enough to be heard at the best of times, let alone when someone is not paying attention.

Funny, these lifelong perspectives and habits-of-feeling we develop.  At least these days I merely feel bored in this situation, and my mind wanders off to the world of ideas and dreams.  I have a very active imagination – well-honed after a lifetime of frequent use.

But for some people, the need to feel heard is deep and desperate.   It’s a straining, bursting-at-the-seams kind of need; an it’s-been-so-long-I-might-kill-myself kind of need.   And there are so many people out there with this need, one could almost become a fulltime “volunteer listener”.   I know there are some who just never stop talking – for whom the talking is probably an unconscious distancing of people – a barrier to intimacy.  But for most, the bursting need is to talk about something pressing – like a feeling of injustice or unfairness, the need to feel affirmed, appreciated, perhaps even understood.

Maslow’s famous “hierarchy of needs” didn’t include the need to feel heard; but it would fit right in there among the more basic needs in life.   How about right after food, or sleep?

This entry was posted in communication, compassion, consciousness, Feelings, personal growth, personal power, reflections and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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