One of our biggest struggles in the world today is the struggle to listen well. I don’t just mean listening to another person, like your spouse or child, although listening is incredibly important for a successful relationship. Today I want to talk about how to listen to yourself.
We are Disconnected from Ourselves
In today’s culture, we tend to be disconnected from ourselves. We run around from one thing to another. We are incredibly busy, but struggle to engage in meaningful tasks. Everything is more convenient than ever, yet we feel rushed and hurried. We miss out on what is most important in service of what is most urgent. We work ourselves to the bone in order to make more money to buy stuff we don’t need.
The Art of Listening to Yourself
I think our lives would improve dramatically if we learned how to press the pause button and truly listen to ourselves. The key here is to listen to what we need. Often, we are disconnected from our needs. Because of this, we struggle to get our needs met.
Right where you are at, press the pause button. You might have to turn off the television and silence your phone. That’s okay. You won’t miss anything important.
Pay attention to your breath. Breathe in slowly—1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds. Pause for 1 second, and then slowly let your breath out—1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds. Repeat this process a few more times. Breathe in slowly—1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds. Pause for 1 second, and then slowly let your breath out—1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds.
Once you are settled and relaxed, ask yourself the following question: What does my body need? Connect with your body and try to listen to what it is telling you. For example, maybe you are feeling hungry or thirsty, and your body is telling you you need to give it some healthy food, or a drink of water. Maybe your body is overworked and it needs some rest or sleep. Maybe you are feeling restless, and your body needs some physical activity. What does your body need?
You can ask yourself a similar question about your mind: What does my mind need? Connect with your mind and try to listen to what it is telling you. For example, maybe you are bored, and need some stimulation. Maybe it’s time to start reading a book or watching a documentary in order to learn something new. Or maybe you’re feeling maxed out. Maybe you need to take a break from work and do something physical. What does your mind need?
Ask yourself a similar question with the different aspects of yourself:
- What does your heart need?
- What does your soul need?
- What does your relationship need?
- What does your world need?
Connect with these different aspects of your life and try to listen to what these parts are telling you. What do you need? Once you get in touch with one of your needs, see if you can do something to meet the need. True listening involves doing something to respond to the need. If you get in touch with one of your needs, but push it away or distract yourself with a time-waster, you haven’t improved your life at all. Pause, listen, and then respond.