Listening is an Act of Love - StoryCorps
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At StoryCorps, we believe one of the most profound and powerful ways to show someone you love them is to be present with them, ask important questions, and really listen. Giving your attention to another person is a loving act.

We want to hear from you about the power of listening in your life. When have you listened to someone, or been listened to, and felt it was an act of love? We’ll share your experience and together, help build a broader awareness of the value of listening and its ability to combat social disconnection and strengthen the ties that bind.

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Reflections on “What does Listening is an Act of Love mean to you?” Shared by the StoryCorps’ Community:

In a time when isolation is the norm and when information is coming in from all sides, listening proves you haven’t lost the ability to truly connect to another human. That’s love. – Holly

As my mom started her descent into Alzheimers, she got lost driving home from the store and knew it was now time to give up driving. She came to me and told me she could no longer drive. “I know what’s coming now,” She said to me, recalling her own mother’s struggle with this disease. I sat and listened and we cried together. She said she knew her moments of lucidity would become less and less. At the end she said, “I love you.” – Mary

Being present as someone expresses themselves to you, without reaction, without judgment, can be profoundly affirming and often creates a space for all kinds of other miracles and connection to occur. – Cecilia

Some years ago I was waiting at the bus stop when a young woman sat down on the bench next to me and asked when the bus would arrive. I said, “Which bus do you want?” She replied, “I don’t know.” I asked, “Where do you want to go?” She replied, “I don’t know.” and she began to cry. Then she told me she had argued with her husband, he had thrown her out of the house, and she had no place to go. I began to tell her about resources available to women in her situation, but soon realized that she already knew everything I was telling her. So I just listened. After a while my bus arrived, but I waived it on so I could listen. When she had finished her story she stood up and said, “Thank you. The hardest part of all this is that nobody wants to listen.” Then she walked away. I waited for the next bus to take me home. I felt like I had done something for her, even though all I did was listen. That stranger taught me something. You don’t need to tell people what to do. Sometimes you just need to listen. – Connie

It is a confidential privilege and such a gift to just listen to another person. They feel heard, really heard, sometimes for the first time. It is a space with no judgement or opinion from the listener. Really a joy-filled space between two people. – Paula

Listening appears passive but requires great courage. I listened to my children and it required a level of personal surrender and sacrifice that many days I thought was simply too much. I felt like I was losing everything I knew about myself and the life I had and the life I had planned, all in order to respond to what I learned by listening to them. – Caroline

So many of us feel invisible. Listening to us makes us visible. It makes us feel like we matter because someone took time out of their lives, their mind off of themselves to focus on us…even if just for a few minutes. – Dena

Listening to me is an act of presence. When I practice patience by listening to someone, I am giving myself fully to that person. Paying attention is an act of love. – Daniel

Listening is hard but easier if the goal is to understand and be curious . I view listening as an act of respect and a way to learn how another person sees things. As a culture we seem to be moving away from listening which may be why anger is off the charts. Joseph

I’ve always felt that words are the ropes we throw one another: to rescue, to guide, to connect. When I listen, therefore, it’s an act of recognition and acceptance. I understand that you are giving me something of value, that you are throwing it into the void in hopes that I will catch it and I will! And that recognition, that acceptance – that’s love. – Julie

Listening with an open heart without judgement and criticism leads me to better understanding and healing. – Olivia

When a loved one felt comfortable enough to tell me a difficult story from his past, I listened and held space for him to share with me. This conversation deepened our connection to one another. – Katie

Listening creates the opportunity to experience magic – to suddenly see invisible secrets of life you weren’t able to see before – to earn the privilege of seeing a new dimension of life where compassion shines and empathy shimmers and wisdom triumphs over facts and fears and love triumphs over all. Listening creates the opportunity to experience awe – the revelation that a fellow human being’s life can render us speechless with wonder. We didn’t know such things existed. Until we listened and suddenly we saw. – Mary

To me, this means listening to someone you love (friend, family, partner) share difficult issues or feelings without judgment, without offering advice or telling the other person what to do, without disagreeing or responding. It can be really hard to do that, and to stay present, but it’s so important and such an act of love! – Diane

I am a therapist. Practitioners are loathe to use that word, love.. We prefer “presence,” “active listening,” “empathic support.” But the older I get and the longer I practice my craft, the more I accept that there is love quietly extant between the chairs. Love cushions pain, loss, fear. In therapy, an unspoken love buoys fragile readiness for change, Love is the font of trust and the vessel for small epiphanies. It is present between the two chairs as a silent but formidable third party. Love begets hope. Hope then becomes love’s armature. – LeAnne

I learned at a young age that listening is an act of love from my mother, who has truly listened to me my entire life. Now I’m 62, she’s 92 and she listens better than ever. She gets me. She never judges, condemns, or tries to fix things. It is one of the best acts of love I’ve ever experienced. – Amy

It meant getting up at 5:15 with my students and listening to them each and every day! – Cathy

If ever there was love learned in listening, it was from our fabulous Black Queen, affectionately known by many as just “‘Z.” It was a gift to have her as a mother. Even to this day, over 20 years since her transition, I still listen for that soft whisper of her spirit, still sending me messages stories from her new throne in glory. I’m still loving you and listening – just from a distance. – Pauline

I love listening to my 4-year old nephew talk about anything – school, friends, his favorite superheros and TV shows. There’s so much innocence, joy, and humor in what he says, and it’s amazing to listen to how his conversations change and develop as he transitions from toddler to child. – Sara

My dear friend always makes me feel loved when she attentively listens to me. – Elaine

StoryCorps helped me find a way to make a chaotic life into a story worth telling, and instead of being silenced, lifted up my voice to the world. My StoryCorps interview helped connect previously isolated people who grew up in the early years of AIDS, and has launched so many conversations about gay families and the AIDS pandemic. – Stefan

Listening closely and with an open heart is always an act of love. – StoryCorps community member