In our group classes, you have the option to have a Listening Partner or two. You may wonder – what’s a listening partner? And why would I want to have one? Listening partners are the brainchild of Patty Wipfler from Hand in Hand Parenting, where parents trade listening time to receive emotional support for their parenting journey.
I first had a listening partner in 2013, and I noticed how it helped me not just as a parent, but in every area of my life. This past year, I’ve been a part of a listening partner small group that meets every week. Once again, I notice how much this emotional support helps and nurtures me.
This year we’ve begun offering listening partners in our classes because I’ve found that listening partnerships can help heal painful patterns with food. What makes a listening partnership unique is that there’s no advice or guidance offered – it’s simply a regular space where you can be listened to with warmth, curiosity, and presence.
We are all so hungry for emotional support! Therapy can do this and is super valuable, but we often need something more than therapy, coaching, advice and guidance.
This is especially true if we spend much of our days in giving or serving roles like parenting, caring for elderly parents or relatives, nursing or doctoring, caring for/teaching children, social work, counseling, ministry and social advocacy.
We need lots of emotional support to do these things well! We need places where we can regularly let down and receive rather than give care, to feel as well cared for as we care for others. I often notice that there’s a correlation between this lack of being cared for and the ways we care for ourselves with food.
Listening partners have other benefits besides this wellspring of emotional nourishment. They support us by connecting us to our inner wisdom, encouraging co-regulation with others, and easing feelings of isolation. The support of others is often what makes the difference to be able to face the pain we carry in our bodies, hearts and minds.
I’ve seen how this support can ease an overreliance on food for emotional support and care and soften the feelings of isolation and loneliness that often accompany these tender protectors.
Earlier this year in the Listen class, people had the option of having a listening partner or small group. Several people shared their experiences with their listening partners and how helpful it was for them – and many are continuing to meet even after the class has ended.
People talked about how much compassion they felt as they listened to others – and how this compassion for others overflowed and deepened their compassion for themselves.
I’m so happy that they’re receiving this kind of help and support, and I wish this support for everyone. So in When Food is Your Mother and our other classes, you’ll also have the option to have a listening partner or small group.
Being compassionate with ourselves is often the hardest compassion to experience. It’s one of the reasons why journeying with a group is so precious – we find we’re not alone. And in each other’s eyes, we come home to ourselves.
I’ll close with this poem by the Persian mystic Hafiz, for it speaks to me of the promise of this connection.
With that Moon Language
Everyone you see, you say to them, “love me”
of course you do not do this out loud,
otherwise someone would call the cops.
Still though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.
why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye
that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
What every other eye in this world is dying to hear?