When was the last time you were engaged in a conversation that you learned something? How about the last time a conversation allowed you to feel something stronger than “meh?” How often do you get to have a conversation where there is depth to the topic, and depth to your emotions? Or do you stay clear of these and have mostly surface conversations focused on telling someone something without a need for a reply that could possibly alter your thoughts? Are they conversations where there really isn’t a dialogue, it is “I am going to tell you what is going on in my life or in this one part of my life. Then you tell me about your stuff.” No true exchange of ideas, emotions, thoughts, just “tell, tell, tell,” without real listening to understand and learn.
I have noticed that there are less and less deep, meaningful, learning conversations surrounding me. I have a few people in my life that I know I can go deep on life with, really focus on layers of understanding, get to new points of view. I have begun to really observe that is more rare than I ever thought. When I worked in corporate, there were a couple of people that I was close to who I relished conversations with and looked forward to seeing. One, in particular, was powerful for me. We easily could talk about a million different topics, both being each others student and teacher. Our conversations were true dialogues of give and take with us both having “a-ha” moments during many of these exchanges. We used to kid that we could solve world hunger if we just a little more time! The conversations were exchanges, of ideas, emotions, and knowledge. The conversations covered the waterfront from company issues, business issues, personal stuff, world information, knowledge about each others hobbies and interests, and the list goes on. There was a true desire to understand each others point of view. We talked about how to approach different people in our lives, how to respond to situations in our lives. We each wanted to learn from each other and help each other with our issues. We were both open to those exchanges.
Now that I don’t work in corporate, this person and I rarely talk. For whatever reasons, we went from best of friends to barely acquaintances and boy, do I miss those conversations! Even more than I thought I would. It has highlighted for me that I don’t have those conversations with a lot of other people in my life. As of late, I have observed that so many conversations are filled with “tell, tell, tell you what I’m dealing with” without a real desire to have input or ideas from any one else. I have noticed that a lot of conversations are just people talking without listening to understand and learn, maybe change your own thought about something because of a conversation.
I don’t expect all conversations to be deep emotional ones, or ones of any depth, however I am noticing there are far fewer than I wish. Because of that, there was a lacking of true connection and a loss of opportunity to learn something new or be someone’s teacher. And that got me thinking. I need to find those conversations where I can, as I am missing that level of dialogue, that depth of emotion In my relationships. My work, being a bit more solitary than it used to be means me reaching out more for that depth of dialogue, finding those who are willing to truly exchange thoughts and not just a need to tell, tell, tell. And I get that sometimes we all just need to tell someone something but it has become more of a norm.
It also means understanding that not all of my relationships are there to give me the same thing. Some are there for companionship, some are there for support and love and they may not give me the intellectual and emotional stimulation I also crave. Those need to come from somewhere else. Figuring out and accepting relationships for what they are and what they give was a big part of this. You don’t get everything from one relationship, hence why people need friends even when they are in a great partnership. Your partner cannot be everything for you. My ex-husband used me as his everything…best friend, lover, sounding board, deep emotional and intellectual stimulation. When I was depleted and couldn’t give anymore, couldn’t listen anymore, he didn’t know what to do. He needed to get that from somewhere and I wasn’t it. He went elsewhere, hence the end of that marriage!
I do miss some relationships that I have lost that gave me that stimulation. I am blessed that I had them, and I know I am a better person for those friendships. I learned and got to teach. The depth of conversations are an ebb and flow in my life. What is important is that I find them where I can and be open to them where they may occur, even in the darnedest places. What is equally important is to not expect them from everyone and once you lose those expectations, you are rarely disappointed. You can just love a relationship for whatever it gives you and not expect anything else.