Joyful Noise: In Defense of Selective Listening

(c) 2015 || jocelynmathewesphotography.com

(c) 2015 || jocelynmathewesphotography.com

In our world today, we experience a simultaneous increase in connectivity with others over social media and the internet, yet there is an even greater disconnect between what is shared and the context in which that piece of information originally existed. The reality we see and experience is quite often an untethered reality.

Without conscious awareness, you can find yourself longing after a carefully-edited image of someone else’s life, without understanding exactly what went into the effort, or invisible struggles. This force pulls your focus away from attending to the needs, wishes and wants of your inner heart and the duties and opportunities around you. You can become stuck in comparison.

So here I think it’s useful to practice selective listening as a way of taking in and processing the media around us. Be conscious and aware of the things you’re taking in knowing which parts to treasure in your heart, and what applies to you. It’s learning to acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers, and another person might. It’s also learning when comparisons are not useful to you, and when you’re sliding into unhealthy, covetous, territory.

It’s difficult to do this when you’re experiencing isolation or difficulty. It’s a challenge to do when you’re searching for reassurance or affirmation. It’s easy to imagine that everyone else is experiencing less difficulty and strife than you are, or that if you follow so-and-so’s example, everything will go smoothly.

But there are no guarantees. There’s only humility and wisdom, acknowledging that none of us knows exactly what will happen next for any one of us. If we practice a bit of healthy selective listening, we can shift our focus away from frustrating comparison and towards connecting with others.

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