This Year of Listening

By Corinna Davies Communications & Marketing Co-ordinator


‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak’ (Epictetus, Greek Philosopher).

You’ve probably heard this phrase or others like it. I did as a child from a well meaning, if slightly agitated, elderly relative. Why then Epictetus, do we sometimes find it so difficult to listen?

I think I’m not alone in admitting to needing to focus, really focus on the other person when I’m trying to be a good listener. Not just hearing their words but blocking out my own thoughts and reactions. It’s not always easy! The mind seems to naturally race away to our own responses, anecdotes or experiences. But what are we missing in the meantime?

Talking through a problem with someone who is truly listening can help you to ‘unburden’. For some it can feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. For others it helps them to feel ‘connected’. Relationships and friendships, where we feel listened to, can have a huge positive impact on our sense of wellbeing.

There are also organisations out there who can listen. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about problems and emotions if we don’t know the person who is doing the listening. Breathing Space is a free phone service, available in the evenings and weekends, for anyone experiencing difficulties in their life. Trained advisors offer listening and advice.

This year is Scotland’s Year of Listening. It’s an opportunity for everyone in Scotland to focus on their listening skills and spread the word about listening organisations. Pledge your support to promote listening skills on the Year of Listening Pledge Board and find out more about the campaign here.

Listening, and being listened to, is good for your mental health.

Take time to listen today.


Corinna Davies Communications & Marketing Co-ordinator

Corinna works in the Communications team at NHS 24 with responsibility for marketing Breathing Space and Living Life, two national mental health telephone services. Over the past 5 years she has been involved in a number of campaigns and initiatives to promote good mental health and wellbeing across Scotland and promote the free, confidential telephone support that Breathing Space and Living Life offer.

Contact us

0131 475 2493
Norton Park 57 Albion Road EH7 5QY Edinburgh