It is common dinner table talk to discuss the happenings of the day. But are we truly being present when we relive our past events with another? Perhaps if everyone was a bit more comfortable with silence, we would notice life happening all around us at each moment. Talking about life happening in front of us may enrich our soul even more than the common “rehashing-the-day” chit chat.
Being present means not thinking about past events or future plans, but rather living each moment, in the moment, as it comes. Relaxing our minds from the past or future can be challenging in itself. So, this begs the question, can we also be present in the company of others?
We often speak of past events sharing them with friends and loved ones. For example, we may be telling someone of an experience that happened earlier that day, a week ago or even years ago. As a listener, it is common practice to cordially listen as someone raves about a positive experience or perhaps rants about a negative one. It is even common to be “courteous” and offer sympathy or excitement during the story-telling.
Why do we feel the need to do this and who are these stories benefitting anyway? The stories are likely NOT benefitting the listener. There are times that others will learn from a past event of another as they may be indirectly involved in it. In this case, it may be beneficial to the listener, but most often, the story-teller is looking for some kind of validation from telling their story. Perhaps they want someone to be proud of them for something they did or they are looking for sympathy for something that happened to them.
Speaking about past events can be even more detrimental than simply thinking them. When story-telling occurs, we are not only living in our past, we are taking the listener to our past as well. And as a listener, it is wise to realize that these past events are not even ours to own! Both the story-teller and the listener are losing out on creating new moments in their life as this story is told.
So what can we do? Aim to get full satisfaction from each experience as you experience it. This may include fully enjoying a positive interaction with another or perhaps learning from an event that occurred. If you truly embrace each experience in the moment AND you feel comfortable in your own skin (no need for validation), then there is little need to tell others your stories.
This does not mean that we should never share our life experiences with another. But it does mean that we can become more conscious of what we choose to share and why we may want to share it. Remember, telling others your stories is usually not for the listeners benefit. Both the story-teller and the listener are kept from creating and experiencing new moments every time we think, speak, or hear of a past event.
So next time you catch yourself doing the story-telling, ask yourself, what benefit am I getting from reliving this experience? Can I be satisfied with the experience of it without telling another? And if I still want to tell my story, is it important enough to keep the listener from experiencing their own life moments?
We may still enjoy sharing our occasional stories but perhaps one moment at a time, we can live life in each moment. Savor the added silence as you practice your way to more balanced, soul-connected relationships. And find that journal for a good transitional listener.