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We teach courses all over the world and have discovered that whatever the culture, whatever the language, people often don’t really, truly listen. Listening is usually perceived as a passive act, but we have discovered that when “true listening” is present, satisfying communication is sure to follow. This is devoted to the art of listening. If you discover those things that keep you from listening, you will simultaneously discover many of the things that get in your way in relationships and in day-to-day interactions. If you learn the art of
listening, you will become more effective, productive, and satisfied in all aspects of your life.

True listening is not something that we have been taught growing up in our families, amongst our friends, or in school.

True listening requires being in the moment. It also requires letting go of your point of view, your thoughts, and your agendas. True listening is an art.

Have you ever examined whether or not you are truly listening? Have you identified what inhibits your ability to actually hear what another person is saying with the intention of seeing what he or she means from his or her point of view? What we are talking about here is a self-education program.

First you must have the desire to discover how you listen and interact with your life from a nonjudgmental point of view. It is not about trying to change or fix what you notice in the self-examination of your behavioral patterns. If you just notice how you are relating to your life, that in itself is enough to complete previously
disturbing patterns of behavior. Frequently, no other actions are needed.


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The aspect of your attentive mind that can see the bigger picture, including your inherent worth, capabilities, and accomplishments.

The Wise Advocate knows what you are thinking, can see the deceptive brain messages for what they are and where they came from, understands how you feel (physically, emotionally), and is aware of how destructive and unhealthy your habitual, automatic responses have been for you.

The Wise Advocate wants the best for you because it loves and cares for you, so it encourages you to value your true self and make decisions in a rational way based on what is in your overall best interest in the long term.

Equally devastating were Steve’s deceptive brain messages that kept him from being able to truly connect with his wife, children, and coworkers. In his case, Steve’s deceiving brain tried to convince him that everyone in his life wanted something from him and that they were not spending time or talking with him because of who he was or because they genuinely cared for him. This false perception caused Steve to become easily annoyed and excessively angry with anyone he perceived was indirectly asking him to do something. Of course, Steve’s deceptive brain messages were clouding his ability to invoke his Wise Advocate to help him see the truth: that the people in his life really liked and respected him because he is smart, funny, caring, and insightful, which draws people to him and his ideas. Contrary to what his deceptive brain messages were saying, the people in his life didn’t want him to do their work or take care of him—they wanted to spend time with and learn from a genuinely interesting and charismatic man.


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How do deceptive brain messages manifest and what do they cause you to do? To find out, let’s follow the case of Kara, a twenty-five-year-old woman who had been dieting, bingeing, and purging since her teens. If you met Kara today, you would have no idea she held such distorted views of her body as a teen. Confident and vibrant, she seems to have it all. She is successful in her career as an analyst and has a large network of friends. Yet for most of high school and college, she was overwhelmed by deceptive brain messages related to her appearance.

Kara describes the process of how deceptive brain messages impacted her in this way. First, a false, negative thought would strike, telling her she was “no good” and “unlovable” because she was not physically perfect. Although it was not true, Kara would take this missive at face value and accept it as reality. What happened next was excruciating, she says. “I would get an intensely uncomfortable sensation,” she remembers, “a feeling that I could not stand being in my own skin.” She felt “gross” and “disgusted” with herself, both emotionally and physically. The sensations were unbearable and all Kara wanted to do was get away from these feelings as fast as she could. Her distress would rise, reaching a crescendo that she could no longer tolerate. Although she would sometimes try to resist them, the uncomfortable sensations, including strong anxiety and self-loathing, were too strong.

The Love Life Diaries