Teachings from my 6 year old son.
My son Albie, now 6, is one of my most helpful teachers. Everyday he shows me how much I am really able to listen without judgment or agenda. Or to put it this way, if he detects any amount of judgment or agenda in my way of being with him, he reacts, sometimes strongly!...
(This is different from clear boundaries, to which he also find hard but differently). It is like his radar for hidden agenda is very sensitive. If I am pretending to listen whilst all the while furious underneath he knows it. He may not tell me he knows this in words, but his actions clearly show it. If he can sense my agenda of pushing him to move quicker in some way than he is able to, he reacts. If my frustration at my life creeps (or bursts!) into my "requests" and interactions with him... he reacts. He picks it up no matter how much I try and hide it.
Put simply, he always knows when I am truly with him and on his side.
It's humiliating. It shows how I pretend sometimes. It shows how many mixed feelings are inside of me... It shows me how much gets triggered by having a child in my life...! It leaves me with plenty of themes to explore.
And why is this important for Focusing? It shows me just how responsive and sensitive parts of us can be inside. They know! just like Albie. They can tell if I am listening. It's only when something in me really knows I am listening without agenda that it opens up and shows me more. I have seen this again and again.
It can be easy perhaps to describe some part of me or some sense inside, find a symbol or word that fits... but it can easily grind to a halt there if I am not checking, how am I with this? Is there some other hidden part of me judging it or wanting it to go away? Can what you are with tell you are listening? If it opens up and shows or tells you more then you can be confident that you are, but if it all feels a little cool and rational, then perhaps that part of us senses shame or judgment.
A simple "test" is to enquire inside. "Can this place in me be just as it is?"
In many ways our relationships inside are no different from outside. In our own life we all love it when we feel met, respected and heard, when we feel someone is there for us, curious and empathic. And we all know what it feels like when we sense someone else's agenda or judgment. We often sense it immediately, or we find ourselves slowly closing down as we sense the hostile or indifferent environment. Or we shut down when we find someone analysing or dismissing what we feel. It's no different inside of us. Our somethings always know.