Listen Up! It’s An Act of Care

Listen, Connect, Care


Listening– REALLY Listening!

How often have you had a conversation with someone who only wanted to talk about themselves? Frustrating, aye?

Unfortunately, most of us respond to our loved ones either by telling stories about our own past or offering solutions. Both types of responses prevent seeking to understand first, perhaps the most important of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

When in a conversation with someone, open your heart, empty your mind, and listen. If you notice yourself thinking about your own past, refocus your attention on what he is saying. If you’re tempted to suggest solutions, remind yourself that actively listening is your goal.

To show your intent to understand, briefly summarize what you think you heard. When he replies, summarize again.

Listening in this way not only shows that you careit also invites the person to clarify his own thoughts and feelings, often leading to helpful insights.

For example, if a friend tells you she’s worried about losing her job because her boss constantly criticizes her, tune in, breathe, and resist the urge to tell your own tale about a bad boss.

Then paraphrase her words: “It sounds like you get a lot of negative responses from him.”

Your friend replies, “Well, it’s not really criticism. It’s just that he has such high expectations.”

Then you summarize (without giving advice), “Hmmm, high expectations. That’s gotta be hard!”

This reply elicits her feelings and encourages more detail, allowing both of you to explore the problem and find positive ways to address it.

 Try It Out

  1. Select a friend or coworker who is easy to talk to.
  2. Plan at least a 15-minute conversation without interruption.
  3. You may want to begin by explaining that you’re working on your listening skills and reassure him you have only good intentionsto fully understand what he says.
  4. Ask him to begin talking about something happening in his life.
  5. Listen intently while suspending your urge to break in with your own experiences or solutions.
  6. When he stops, pause to see if he’s finished and to prepare your response. Select the most important parts of what he said, and summarize one of them in your own words. For example, “So, you said (fill in blank). Tell me more about that.” or “You mentioned the word (fill in blank). What does that mean to you?”
  7. If it seems acceptable to the other person, ask him how it felt to be listened to this way.

In your everyday interactions, make a conscious effort to listen carefully to others and paraphrase what you heard. Withhold your own thoughts and reactions until you fully comprehend the other person’s position or experience.

Even though the habit of seeking to understand may feel artificial, you will soon find it more natural, especially when you sincerely intend to give pure, loving attention to another. As you listen fully, you’ll be astonished at how much you learnand by the good will you create.

PS. I learned a lot of great communication skills from these folks:

Worry Less Now; Gigi LangerGigi Langer, PhD is a sought-after speaker on professional and personal growth.  She has 35 years of experience in psychology, therapy, and recovery.  Gigi has co-authored five other books and is an award-winning writer.

Her latest book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection, will be released in March 2018




Recovery: 5 Ways to Fill up Your “Sanity Bank”

In early recovery, we want relief from our messy situations—right now! But rather than focusing on those situations, we need to do the necessary footwork to heal ourselves. Think of it as filling up your “Sanity Bank.” As you fill up the bank, it yields miracles both inside and around you.

Five kinds of footwork help you make deposits into your Sanity Bank:

  1. Attending meetings: Go early, stay late, make sober friends (no romance!).
  2. Working the 12 steps with a sponsor: Meet regularly to work on recovery.
  3. Reading A.A. and other literature, e.g., Hazelden.
  4. Praying and meditating daily: Quiet time, read, pray, meditate.
  5. Service: Help with group tasks, talk to newcomers, sponsor others.

This list shows the difference between a healthy and a sick and life.  Surely we want the former.

-Clean, Sober & Clear versus Drugs/Alcohol, Sex & Worry

-Honest, Open & Willing vs. Denial 

-Trust God’s Care vs. EGO = Ease God Out 

-Turn it Over to Higher Power vs. “ISM” = ”I Shall Manage” 

-Love (Trust God/Power) vs. Fear (Victim Mentality) 

-Helping Others (no strings) vs. Self-Centered

-Higher Power provides all I need.” vs. ”I must have more of . . .”

 But why are we accumulating these “sane” riches? For the day when we need them. When we are down in the dumps, we can make a withdrawal from our Sanity Bank. We may receive comfort from a friend or ask our Higher Power for a different perspective.

Our Sanity Bank often surprises us with unsolicited gifts, similar to interest payments or dividends. We might receive an unexpected answer to a prayer, a positive change in a challenging situation, or money right out of the blue.

Like any system, the Sanity Bank can get out of kilter. Especially during the good times, it’s easy to become complacent. Life is going so well that we “forget” to do our footwork.  At such times, our bank’s riches are getting dangerously low, often without our own awareness.  Perhaps we:

  • Revert to old ways of “looking for love in all the wrong places:” TV binging, excessive partying, seductive games, overeating, or workaholism.
  • Stop meeting with healthy others and start hanging out with negative friends.
  • Become self-centered and grouchy with our loved ones.

Then, when the shit hits the fan, there’s little sanity left to draw upon. As stinkin’ thinkin’ creeps in, we see troubling events as catastrophic,  worry about the future, and indulge our anger about the past.

Fortunately, when you reach this state, you can refill your Sanity Bank through a crash-course of footwork. Go to extra meetings, call your sponsor, give a ride to a newcomer, or memorize a new prayer. Here’s one of my favorite meditations.    May it bless your sanity!

 May I be at peace; May my heart remain open; May I awaken to the light of my own true nature; May I be healed; May I be a source of healing to all others. 

worry , recovery, sanityGigi Langer, PhD has more than 35 years of experience in psychology, therapy, and recovery. She is a sought-after speaker on professional and personal growth. Gigi has co-authored five other books and is an award-winning writer.  Her latest book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection, will be released in March 2018

Does Change Make You Worry? Step Back . . . Try Beauty!

Worry Less Now Blog: Beauty Trumps Worry

Change: Who likes it? No one does! I don’t either. Cuz it makes me worry! (What does this have to do with a hedgehog?? Stick with me here . . .)

Change always wakes up worry’s whispered lies:  “What if the change makes things worse? Don’t make the wrong choice. It could cost you!!”

We make a plan and proceed as if it’s in stone–but we know better, don’t we? At least those of us who’ve been around for a while. “Make the plan but hold it loosely.” That’s what I’ve learned over the years.  Still, when things change, it unsettles me; I need to step back to breathe and gain wisdom. Today, I’m stepping into quiet moments of beauty.

So, what’s the change that’s causing my worry? As happens so often in my life, the right person shows up at just the right time with (what seems to be) just the right advice. This latest info might require me change the release date of my book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now.

A friend-of-a-friend, a very experienced publicist, suggests releasing the e-book and print book at same time, in late February or March. I would print it right away and send out “advance reader” copies with letters requesting traditional media coverage –- reviews, interviews, and so on– to generate “buzz” before the release date. In the meantime, I would continue social media marketing. As I read up on marketing (I’m a total novice, so I have to research these things), there seems to be consensus on this approach.

This new plan kinda breaks my heart, tho’.  I want to get the book into readers’ hands as soon as possible.  I’m pretty sure it’s gonna help a lot of people beat the worry habit. For now, only the beta readers will get it, as they’ve invested their time to provide feedback and deserve a little reward. But others won’t.

So, while I’m stepping back to gain perspective before making this decision, I’m enjoying a bit of beauty by recalling one of my favorite books of all time: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Stunning writing! 

Here’s a little poem I wrote in 2011 after reading it.

And What of Beauty?  by Gigi

If all is illusion, as many believe.

Then, what of this feast that greets us each day?

The luscious green summer,

The slinking grey body of my cat, Murphy,

Looked upon with a full, almost-bursting heart?

Is it that Beauty elicits Love?

And thus transcends the physical?

Is it a portal into Heaven and Peace?

I may never know

Art, however, has captured itself

When Muriel Barbery wrote,

“I’ll be searching for those moments

of always within the never.

Beauty, in this world.”

As the rising notes of Satie rose up

Into that courtyard, Barbery’s character,

Realizing that she will never again see her dear friend, thinks,

“Those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time,

Something suspended,

An elsewhere that had come to us,

An always within never.”

Beauty trumps Death.

Love trumps Pain.

Truth trumps Fear.

Gigi Langer, PhD.  With more than 35 years of experience in psychology, therapy, and recovery,  Gigi is a sought-after speaker on professional and personal growth. She is an award-winning writer, and has co-authored five other books.  Her latest book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection, will be released soon. 

“Worry Less Now” Cover Reveal!

Worry Less Now Release

WHAT’S A COVER REVEAL??  So, in book marketing there’s this thing called a “Cover Reveal.” (I learned this from my wise mentors at You post a picture of your book cover a couple of weeks before its release. . . and Boom!

Yup, you guessed it: This is the BIG REVEAL, the first time anyone has seen the great book cover designed by Kelly Zorn  here in Ann Arbor, MI. Isn’t it gorgeous?

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU? The book has a lot of great stuff: Practical tools, compelling stories, and easy-to-use ideas that defeat worry and negative thinking. Check it out at

I discovered the strategies through therapy, recovery programs, energy psychology, spiritual traditions, and mental health research.  (I’ve used these techniques extensively because I have a teensy issue with worry!)

WHAT ARE READERS SAYING? As one advance reader wrote: “Your personal story and the examples of the strategies helping peoples’ lives show that the techniques really work. I learned so much.”

Access your own wisdom, power, and dreams by applying the ideas in this book. Calmly and wisely handle any challenge: relationship failures, illness, work stresses, worry about loved ones, substance abuse, fear of failure, perfectionism, negativity, depression, childhood trauma, or anxiety.

Gigi Langer, PhD.  With more than 35 years of experience in psychology, therapy, and recovery,  Gigi is a sought after speaker, retreat leader, and award-winning writer and professor.  She has co-authored five other books for educators.

50 Ways to Worry Less Now will be released in  print and e-book, March 2018.  Available at