Sometimes when I answer a question, I notice that the asker has
Midway through my response I feel a shift….I know I am about to
hear some familiar words, words that we all tend to use from time
Yeah, I hear what you are saying,
but that won't work for me because….
Yeah, that's a good idea,
but I can't do that
because….Yeah, I hear what you are saying,
but my situation is completely
This is a common response when I offer a new parenting or self
care solution, when I share another way to view misbehavior or
discipline, when I suggest feeling emotions or allowing children to
I usually notice a shake of the head and a look that conveys,
yeah, that works for you, but…and then a list of
challenges that stand in the way of real change.
At some point or another all of us yeah, but our way
through a conversation. It's a way of being protective of our
choices, our reasons, our way of thinking.
It's the way of communicating that all doable options have been
explored, our circumstance is different, and no one can understand
our unique situation.
There is truth to this, it is impossible to fully comprehend
another's life experience or situation.
But at the same time, real growth in life depends on our ability
to be open to new possiblities.
It's like the proverb of the "empty cup" - when we seek to
learn, we must arrive with our cup empty so there is space to take
in something new.
So many of us show up with great questions, but we are
unable to hear answers because our cup is entirely full, spilling
over with what we already believe to be true with no room for a new
There are parts of my personal and professional life where I
tend to carry a "full cup" of knowledge and experience….I have
moments of believing that I have heard or seen it all.
But really, I know this isn't true….the older I get the more I
realize how much I don't know.
So I make it a practice to be attentive - in everyday
situations, but also in areas outside of my comfort zone. I
find something that intrigues me, usually something I have let go
of at some point in my life, and I attempt to re-learn.
And right now it's all about tap dancing. Believe me, I am
the most beginner of the beginners in the beginners class which
means I must listen with great attention, watch the others around
me, and fully engage in the learning process. My cup is
This isn't always comfortable; my ego has to be checked at the
door. But it's also pretty great because I feel like a kid
experiencing something new - I am present, connected and fully
It's a great overall learning and it inspires me to bring this
type of studentship into my everyday life….especially in the areas
where I think I know it all.
Like when my husband wants to share something that I
think I already know (or at least know better), I want so
badly to yeah, but him…
But like in dance, I check my ego at the door and practice good
studentship. I make an effort to empty my cup, soften and
And when I do this I feel him soften because he realizes I am
not competing. I don't need to be right or win, and neither
does he. Then we truly begin to hear and learn from each
Yeah, but is a built in defense system, the way we
invest everything in our need to be right, our past experiences,
what people have told us could happen, or what we fear could
It's not a completely bad thing, in theory it can guide us to
informed choices, but it can also be limiting.
If we go through life yeah, butting, we may miss out on
the new idea, the door opening, or the new path to clarity.
And all you have to do is take a breath, practice listening and
allow the other person to share.
Hey, you may find you really don't agree with what you hear, but
maybe you can respond with that's interesting or
thanks for sharing.
Or, you may find that you hear something amazing, something that
changes your perspective or guides you towards what you have been
And this guidance or perspective changing "advice" can come in
the simplest forms.
Like when I am at my computer, struggling with what to write and
my daughter says, "Look at me mom, look at me spin, look at what
I so badly want to say, yeah, I see, but I am
busy…..yeah, that's great, but don't get hurt
while doing that….."
But instead I breathe, stop and watch the way she spins around
in a circle. She is sharing with me in that moment; she is
indeed offering her wisdom.
Mom, watch me spin, watch me live….look how free I am….look
how I enjoy my moments…be like me…..
I empty my cup…..I see you, I hear you……I learn.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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