Listening is a beautiful gift we CHOOSE to embrace — a way to get to know ourselves. It is the ability to inquire how you are feeling, doing, reacting in your life, and figuring out what would make you happy. Listening reduces stress, helps you heal yourself, and provides opportunities to create what you want in life. It is a skill you need to train your mind.
Depending on your belief, whether you deserve the time to listen to yourself, you may or may not carve out the time to prioritize YOU.
CURRENT BELIEF: For many of us, we do not feel that self-nurturance is our right. Instead, we may view self-nurturance as selfish, and nurturing others is more important. We may believe there is too much to do in our lives, and there are more important things to do than taking time for ourselves.
It’s hard to get past the negative “selfish” thought, as it is usually a deeply embedded belief that has resided in our minds for most of our lives. Yet, beliefs are not necessarily accurate. I saw this sticker the other day, which sums it up:
“Don’t Believe Everything You Think.”
I chuckled because many people I know, including myself, hold our beliefs as the TRUTH. Most of the time, it is just the training we received as young children, and we have not challenged the assumptions we make daily.
Instead of thinking “selfish,” you can reframe it with “self-care.” Self-care is vital for everyone, and listening to ourselves helps us prioritize our values and priorities, which helps us create a life that supports us.
Have you notice that when you decide something is important to you, you usually follow through and get it done. Why not believe that time to listen to yourself is essential.
Have your experiences, as well as the people in your life,
help create the foundation of a specific belief?
If so, ask if that belief is still working for you?
CHANGE BELIEF: If you believe that selfishness is a negative quality, what if you reframe your thought around it? What if it meant that you are setting boundaries and limits that are essential to your well-being? Say “no” to another request and say “yes” to time to listen to yourself.
The belief that it is selfish to take care of yourself is a crazy loop that hinders your happiness. Self-inquiry is about looking at your views, how they impact your thoughts, and deciding, not so much why you have them, but rather asking yourself: “Are they serving my well-being.”
To create change in your life, you must listen to yourself.
When you take the time to hold space for yourself and listen to the inner tensions, body signals, and thoughts, it allows you to decide how to create a life that supports YOU. Even in your busy life, you can add self-nurturance into it. Listening helps you make different choices that may support your well-being better.
Listening is a powerful tool to have in your daily life.
You can give time to listen to others and still find time to listen to yourself – there is no limitation on listening. Listening is always a choice that you offer others, as well as yourself. It is a powerful skill to include in your daily life, and it helps you move towards the happiness you seek.
Ways to Listen to Yourself
- You can review the past and see how it is impacting your present
- You can view your present life and reflect on whether you are living the best way you can now.
- You can decide what you want in your future and start in the present, creating the future you want.
- You can gather ideas on how you can add creativity to your life.
- What about creating a Vision Board to capture what you want to add to your life.
- You can create space to view your relationships, deciding whether the relationship is working for you. Creating solutions to increase the comfort in the relationship or possibly deciding it doesn’t work for you anymore. It can be a scary awareness, though listening to yourself is essential if your goal is to be happy.
Take time to listen to the stories you tell yourself and how they help or hinder your current well-being—slowing down enough to reflect on how your life is going. Is there something you can change or even celebrate in your present life?
Is Listening to Yourself Hard?
Listening, like any other skill, is a daily practice. Sometimes you can become overwhelmed by emotions, judgments, or fears. That’s why we often choose distractions or concentrate on others because it’s difficult for us to sit and listen to what we feel inside.
If you intend to create more happiness or solutions to enhance your life, and it feels emotionally challenging to listen to yourself, reach out for support.
We don’t have to travel a road alone.
We can ask for support, as we are all interdependent,
and don’t need to be victims of loneliness.
Listening to What is Working in Your Life
Most of us have a negative bias around who we are and how our lives are going. Think about the last nine things you did that were helpful to you or others. Think of the one thing that did not work out, or there was a negative response. Ask yourself: Are the nine things that worked out or the one that did not that captures your attention?
It’s likely you spent more time thinking about what went wrong and didn’t honor what had worked out for you – negative bias thinking.
When you carve out time to listen to yourself, acknowledge what works in your life.
Taking in both the positive and negative activities throughout your day helps balance your thoughts and support your happiness.
Listening to the Annoyances in Your Life
Do you complain about many different issues and yet continue to tolerate those annoyances or challenges. They do not go away; instead, they seep deeper into your energy source and deplete you of a vital life force. Learning how to handle everyday annoyances or the significant challenges that take more of your energy — is a skill you can learn by listening and choosing to do something different.
I don’t know about you, but no one taught me how to problem solve? Instead, survival of the fittest was probably the theme that moved me forward in life. It’s not that I didn’t solve issues; more so, I tolerated too much and didn’t listen to the frustrations that were quietly taking away my energy.
Think about all the little things you complain about each day or week. Is there a theme or consistency around what you are not happy about in your life? Do you tolerate annoyances because you feel you cannot change or take too much energy to change them?
Listening to yourself gives you the tools to solve issues and gained back your energy. You can make choices and not feel helpless or overwhelmed.
Listening is a skill, which means you can learn it.
If you thought that there were options available to you, would you change your behavior? Listening opens the door to potential opportunities to enhance your day.
How often have you waited online and got annoyed, wanting to move forward quickly, as you have so many things to do and cannot do anything about it? Maybe you stamped your feel, breathed heavily, or complained out loud. It is an annoyance which all of us have experienced at some time in our lives. I spent most of my life in New York City area, and impatience is a New York trait. We are so busy rushing, or there are so many people, the annoyance of waiting in line creeps into our everyday life. Yet what can we do about the problem? There are so many options to release the tension in our heads and bodies while waiting in line. If we stop and listen to our annoyance, maybe we could make other decisions:
- We can talk to someone in front or behind us.
- Always carry a notepad around to capture what you want to do or ideas around your work or writing.
- Check your email
- Reach out to a friend via email or text.
- Take slow deep breaths, enjoying the moment and that you are alive.
- Or stand there and release the need to have it be different than it is.
Managing Your Expectations
We all have expectations, though how do we manage them. Ask whether your expectations are realistic, manageable, and offer value to your life. Or are your expectations unrealistic based on a belief that something should be different?
Is it possible for expectations to have both negative and positive aspects in your life? For example, expectations inherently are not necessarily negative. It depends on how realistic they are in the present moment. The key to your overall happiness lies in how you manage your expectations in life.
While listening to yourself, you can evaluate how your expectations impact you:
Expectations of Others
Here is where listening is a great tool. How often do you set expectations for others and their behavior, and it frustrates you because they will not change their behavior. Somewhere inside us, we believe that if we want them to change, they should and can.
Ask yourself, “Is this belief they can or should change serving your well-being?” I doubt it, as other people only change what is important to them, not necessarily what is important to you.
Also, your expectation may not fit who they are as people. I have found in life that when we seek love from others, we expect them to show love for us, in the same way we show love. The way we offer love is familiar to us, though it may not be familiar to the other person. Will the need for love be satisfied by the other person with this expectation?
How would that unmet expectation impact you? Are you angry, frustrated, argue with them, pout, sit within that feeling of helplessness, and feel entitled to your belief that they must change?
If your constant belief is they must change, and it’s sapping your energy, you may want to create a different view and be open to receiving their love. Stepping back and becoming aware of how the other person expresses love towards you could provide you with what you want – to feel love.
If their behavior is quite annoying, you can choose not to interact with that person, but you can’t change them. Think about letting go of the expectation that they must change. You can do this by listening to yourself, recognizing your thoughts, and deciding to do something different to support your well-being.
We can’t change anyone but ourselves.
Expectations of Ourselves
When you decide to make a change, you are probably eager to have it occur right now. It doesn’t happen that way.
Expectations of ourselves can be positive or negative thoughts that impact how we feel about ourselves.
- Positive Expectations – helps us create a goal, anticipate the challenges, and believe that what we expect ourselves to do is specific, measurable, and doable. We include in our plans time to meet what we set out to do.
- Negative Expectations – you should be perfect in what you do, never make mistakes, and expect to complete it in an unrealistic time.
Some thoughts to manage your expectations of yourself:
- Give yourself time – it takes time to make the adjustments to include a new belief or action that adds a change to your life.
- Be flexible – You can decide to create change in your life, believe you know how to do it, and maybe something goes wrong, or you didn’t anticipate all the different parts of the change, and it takes longer to do.
- Let go of judgment – most of us criticize ourselves frequently, and when we don’t live up to our expectations, we feel like failures. When managing your expectations, keep in mind that you are changing and are a beginner, and beginners need more time and make mistakes.
Enjoy being a beginner in the changes you want to make in your life.
Steps to Inner Listening
- Create space – it’s essential to spend some time with yourself, not in judgment mode, but rather in an inquiring manner. How much time you want to spend doing it is up to you. However, start with at least 15 consistent minutes a day showing up for yourself.
- Align your daily intentions with time to listen. For many, it’s an early morning journal to write out all their concerns, wants, frustrations, and plans. A great tool to listen to yourself and use that knowledge to reframe your current beliefs and thoughts to nurture yourself.
- Become aware by listening to your emotions and responding rather than reacting to situations that arise during your day.
- Choose to add compassion for yourself and others into your daily thinking.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
– His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
As you spend time listening to yourself, negative thoughts about who you are may surface. It is common for us to go first to the negative and not sit with compassion for ourselves. As you listen to your thoughts, your issues, and what direction you want your life to go, bring compassion along for the ride.
Compassionate self-inquiry softens how to respond to your thoughts. Compassion is a healer of so many things in your life. It heals your negative self-thoughts, as well as negative opinions of others – bring compassion along for the ride.
Strong emotions may surface when you create a space to listen to yourself, and it can be challenging to sit and listen. It’s usually the negative thoughts you hold on to and forget the positive aspects of who you are – bring compassion along for the ride.
Thoughts automatically surface every moment of your day, and you can’t stop thinking. No matter how hard you try, thoughts flow up into your consciousness – bring compassion along for the ride.
Try to find room in your day to listen, become more aware of your thoughts, and bring compassion along for the ride.
Now that you have given some thought to your beliefs, can you take a small step to find the time to listen to yourself? If the thought “I don’t have time” pops up, can you step back and reframe it and start to believe you have the right to carve out time for yourself.
Beliefs ==> Thoughts ==> Feelings ==> Actions ==> Results
If you want a new reality ==> Change Your Self-Limiting Beliefs and Thoughts
Women’s Group Topics
This is a powerful discussion topic, as everyone needs more time to listen to themselves. Support each other in the efforts to creating time to do inner listening. Create accountability for each person. Discuss how to create space in one’s life to listen.
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”