It’s been said that we have two ears and only one mouth so we should listen to others twice as much as we talk to others. However, I believe we should first listen to ourselves.
We cannot really listen to others if we haven’t initially listened to what is being said inside our own minds and bodies. If we haven’t heard and understood ourselves that little voice will go on and on and interrupt when others are speaking – and we can’t listen to them and ourselves at same time! Find someone who is not listening to you (yes, there are many of them!) and you have identified a person who hasn’t listened to themselves.
Why should we listen to ourselves anyway?
Becoming self-aware by listening to what we are really thinking and feeling allows us to take control of those ‘I’m never going to be able to…’ or ‘I can’t do that’ messages that go on inside our heads, which, at best, create procrastination and, at worse, destroy dreams. New research from the University of Toronto (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100921110956.htm) shows that listening to your inner voice plays a role in controlling yourself and helps prevent making impulse decisions.
Of course, it isn’t enough to listen; it is more to do with understanding yourself – understanding your real needs and wants and getting yourself into a place where you can experience them. For some, that might be easier said than done. Many of us don’t know what we are saying, and even if we do, are unable to work out what it really means.
How can we work out what we are saying?
Meditation is considered to be a good way to really connect with your deeper feelings but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, so I’ve looked into some other methods:
1. Paying attention to what tune you are humming –
If you are the type of person who pays attention to the lyrics of songs, finding you are humming a song might mean that a statement in the lyrics (or even the whole meaning) is what you are really feeling in your own life. You may think you’re humming that tune because you’ve heard it on the radio that day but, chances are, you heard many tunes yet it is only that one you are humming. Listen to what the lyrics might be saying to you and how that relates to you and your feelings.
2. A story on the news –
Look at the deeper meaning in any story that you hear which plays on your mind. For example, it could be that there was a house fire due to someone carelessness. If you find you are thinking about this story ask yourself if there something you are being careless about. Should you be taking better care of your health or elderly family member?
3. Writing down your thoughts –
Keep a thought diary. Write down your thoughts every day and then, after a while, read back over what you have written. Look for patterns in your writing. Are there any words you use a lot? What do they mean to you? What is it you are really saying – read in-between the lines.
4. Say ‘It’s like…’ –
If none of the other methods work for you try this: give an example of your situation but use a more basic concept starting with ‘It’s like…’.
For example, a person works for a firm they like, doing work they enjoy. They then apply for promotion. When they are offered the promotion however, they don’t want to take it. Many people might think the reason they no longer want the promotion is because they’ve realised that they’re happy where they are and don’t really want the added responsibility etc. Yet if this was so, why did they apply for promotion in the first place? Using the ‘It’s like…’ method they might say, ‘It’s like… I’m a kid who is happy at school and really enjoying myself but I don’t want to stay on another year and study. Although this would be great, I would rather now go out and find a job. I feel I’ve outgrown school.’
In this example the person – although happy with the company –feels they need more of a challenge and what they are really saying to themselves is, I need to move on altogether.
We already know what is good for us. We already know what we should do. We’re just not that good at listening to ourselves. If you’re still unconvinced I would challenge you and say that what is actually happening is you have your hands over your ears and are ‘la la la-ing’ at the top of your voice. Perhaps you are scared? Perhaps you have a limiting belief that says you can’t do the thing you’re telling yourself is right for you. For me it was going to the dentist. I hadn’t been for years because I believed it would be too expensive and I would be embarrassed when I wouldn’t be able to carry on the treatment due to lack of funds. I went along one day and found out this wasn’t so!
So, what are you saying to yourself? What story are you thinking about? What song from the radio are you humming?