Sounds entirely selfish doesn’t it? But I wonder whether one of our most basic needs is to be able to share whatever we have to give for the benefit of others. Giving to others, whether it be through paid or volunteer work, creative ventures or our human relationships seems to me to be a basic need that brings with it a sense of satisfaction that I am valued.
Henri Nouwen once said, ‘We will never believe we have anything to give unless there is someone able to receive’.
I used this idea in my first book, An Improbable Feast, to stress the importance of listening. Listening enables the other to share what they may desperately want to tell. Listening is the antidote to closing in on one’s self. Listening is a preventative to the emergence of the emotionally damaging belief that ‘no-one cares’.
But it also works the other way. That for my own emotional good I need to express myself; and I do so with the intention of contributing to the project of human well-being and human flourishing. And that makes me feel good! Whether someone is prepared to listen is something else!