Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
“What we witness, we are changed by. When we are witnessed, we are never the same.”
Native American saying
You may have noticed the trend. The lessons we discuss in each edition of Nurturing News are often ones that I want to focus on myself. This one is no different. As I look forward to 2006 I asked myself where I want to focus this year. The answer is clear. I want to focus on listening—listening to myself—my inner teacher. I also want to listen to others in a way that creates a space where people will feel heard and in the process listen to their own inner teachers.
In her book, “Turning to One Another” Margaret Wheatley talks about the importance of listening (and not trying to fix). “A young, black south African woman taught some of my friends the healing power of listening. She was sitting in a circle of women from many nations, and each woman had the chance to tell a story from her life. When her turn came, she began to quietly tell a story of true horror—of how she had found her grandparents slaughtered in their village. Many of the women were Westerners, and in the presence of such pain they instinctively wanted to do something. They wanted to fix, to make it better, anything to remove the pain of this tragedy from such a young life. The young woman felt their compassion, but also felt them closing in. She put her hands up, as if to push back their desire to help. She said, “I don’t need you to fix me. I just need you to listen to me.”
In my early years at Integrity I had invited a group of women to my office to brainstorm an upcoming session. Many of the women who came had not met one another until that day. During the session, one woman told the group that as a woman of color, she found getting new business more difficult because of the color of her skin. She shared that she realized her best success came when she used a white man to act as a “front”—to get her and her business into the door so that she could talk about what she could do.
You could hear a couple of gasps but the women in the group just listened. A couple expressed their sincere appreciation to her for sharing such a personal story. No one tried to fix—instead they thanked her for opening their eyes to something they didn’t realize was happening. In doing so, they created a space where she could truly be heard.