What is habitual listening? I’ve also heard it called “Already Always Listening”. 

Do you know someone who irritates you? Before they even open their mouth, you know they will say something that annoys you and so you are listening for it? It doesn’t take long before you feel that familiar irritation and you think, “There it goes! I knew he was going to say something obnoxious!” That is habitual listening where you listen to that person in the same way you have always heard them. You listen through a filter of “this person is so ____whatever”… fill in the blank.

What if you were able to release all prior irritation for this person and start clean with no history? How different this conversation goes when you practice listening from a place of “nothing!”

I did some NLP work on myself years ago when my son with special needs, Andrew, was about 10 years old. His behavior was atrocious and the filter through which I viewed him was that “he will do anything just to annoy me.” After doing this program, I came home one day and he had taken a toy shovel and pushed it right through our window screen. My mother-in-law was looking after him that day and she usually had extraordinary patience with him, but as I walked in the house, she just started ranting about how his behavior was intolerable. 

I had released my habitual listening for Andrew in this NLP program and I was the calm one. I asked what he did to upset her. She told me about the toy shovel and the window screen and I asked for more details. I surprised myself because normally this would have sent me over the top.

My mother-in-law explained to me that he was bathed and in his pajamas at 6 pm on a hot July evening and was standing at the window watching the kids across the street playing in their front yard. Because I was listening from a place of “nothing” and not that old habitual way, I immediately saw that he WAS FRUSTRATED BECAUSE HE WANTED TO ALSO BE PLAYING OUTSIDE WITH THE CHILDREN ON THIS GORGEOUS SUMMER’S NIGHT INSTEAD OF STANDING AT THE WINDOW WATCHING THEM IN HIS PAJAMAS!” I got him dressed and sent him outside to play. He was happy as could be.

Who changed? Me or him?

I think the answer is obvious: it was me. I was able to really hear and see Andrew… maybe for the first time since he was 2 years old. I was deeply moved by this experience and learned a very valuable lesson that day. 

Work hard to get to the place where you can listen to people as though you have no history with them. You would be so surprised at how your relationships blossom! If you would like some tips on how to get to that place, always feel free to reach out to me at any time. 


Jayne Goldman, MBA, C.Ht., Founder and Principal of Best Life Hypnotherapy in Los Angeles, is a Certified Hypnotherapist and NLP Master NLP Coach and Practitioner

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