For Those Struggling with Symptoms from Combat PTSD and other Psychological and Emotional Discomforts
(Adapted from Couple Skills Group Workshop)
Submitted by Past Commander
Mulzim R. Fidai
MAVA National / Peer Support Specialist
According to this study: Active listening is a technique originally conceived and taught to therapists by Carl Rogers (1951).
The technique of identifying, assessing, and overcoming your blocks to listening was developed by McKay, Davis, and Fanning (1983).
The reciprocal communication exercise in which you take turns being the speaker and the listener has been used to good effect in cognitive couples therapy by Dattilio and Padesky (1990).
It’s hard to listen to a spouse, family members and/or friends when you’re stressed out. It’s easier to become inattentive, distracted, and mentally remote.
You then prepare to rehearse your replies when questioned; you begin to filter the content, which can be danger signs toward your health. Especially, this is so when you start collecting evidence to support your waving opinions.
Listening is the most important of all communication skills; it creates and preserves your ability to be understood. When you’re listening, your understanding skills are greatly improved.
You stay closely in tuned, so you can enjoy the relationships that are created by communicating more. I’ve heard it said: “If you shut your mouth and listen, you just might hear God talking to you.”
Listening is a commitment and a compliment. It’s a commitment to understanding and expressing empathy, and putting aside your own interest, needs, your prejudices long enough to experience your relationships through the eyes of others.
Listening is a compliment because it says to others that you care about them enough to listen, and you understand some of what they, think, feel and see.
There is a lot more to listening than merely being quiet while your spouse, and others you relate to are talking. Real listening is distinguished by your intention. If your intention is to understand, enjoy, learn and or help your family members, then you are really listening.
For many, real listening or committed listening is rare. Most people indulge in pseudo-listening (not really or genuinely listening). This type of listening is not for hearing or understanding anything that is being said.
One or more listening blocks contaminates this type of listening:
Mind reading: You are mind reading when you disregard or distrust what your spouse is actually saying, and instead you try to figure out what they really mean.
Rehearsing: You’re so busy rehearsing what you’ll say next, that you never really hear what your spouse is telling you. Sometimes you might rehearse a whole chain of dialogue: “I’ll say this if that is said.”
Filtering: Filtering means that you listen to some things but not others. You listen for signs for if your spouse is angry or sad or anxious and then tune out when you sense that they’re okay and that you aren’t expected to respond to any emotional trouble.
Judging: Judging means that you have stopped listening to your spouse because of your negative perception of something you think was said. You then listen for an opening to assign blame and placing labels on anything said.
Daydreaming: Everyone’s attention wanders. When you’ve been with your spouse or others for many years, it’s especially easy to stop listening and drift away into your own fantasy thinking.
Advising: Your spouse barely has the time to speak a complete sentence before you jump in with your advice. Your search for the solution and your urge to fix everything deafens you to your spouse’s simple need to be heard.
Sparring: You listen only to disagree, argue, and or debate. You take a position and defend it, regardless of what your spouse says.
Being right: This block protects you from hearing anything that suggests you are less than perfect.
Derailing: You change the subject or joke it off whenever the conversation becomes too personal or threatening. By misdirection or humor you avoid listening to your spouse’s serious concerns.
Placating: You are too quick to agree. As soon as your spouse expresses doubt, irritation, or anxiety, you jump in with, “Yes…you’re right…I know…I’m sorry…I’ll fix it.”
You are so concerned with being nice, supportive, and agreeable that you don’t give your spouse enough time to fully express his or her thought.”
Muslim American Veteran Association Past Commander
P.O. Box 891, Martinsburg, W. V. 25401
Phone (304) 283-3156