It’s not easy to listen when there’s so many distractions keeping us busy all the time. Work, family, hobbies, podcasts, TV, events, social media are all part of the distractions keeping us busy.
Who are you listening to?
Whatever you do, however old you are and wherever you are in your life right now we all get distracted from what’s important to us:
- We have a friend that shows us something that intrigues us and we go down that path for a while.
- A family member is poorly and we spend time caring for them, or caring for the carers who are caring for them.
- We get upset about something that impacts our children and we do everything we can to make things right.
- Whatever it is that’s going on around us, it’s not always easy to listen.
So many ways, yet it’s still not easy to listen
I had a conversation recently with my eldest son. He was off for a run with his noise cancelling headphones on. I asked why he felt the need to listen to a podcast when he could listen to the birds, the wind in the trees and be surrounded by the sounds of nature. He simply said, “it’s what I want to do”. There’s not a lot I could say to that! 😉
When I go on my daily walk I love listening to the birds singing. I love to hear the water in the river and the breeze in the trees. It helps me connect to myself by listening to what’s around me.
The upsurge in podcasts and the opportunity to listen rather than watch things has added another way we can listen to the ideas of others.
But is the noise cancelling headphone a symptom of not finding it easy to listen to ourselves? Are we so focused on listening to other people’s thoughts we’re not allowing ourselves any room to listen to other things that are happening around us.
I’ll just say here that I’m not a fan of this way of disconnection from things around us. It’s not that I’m against focus, it’s that I’m concerned that we’re not taking time to use all our senses when we listen. We miss little things all the time when we’re disconnected from ourselves and the world around us.
Listening isn’t just about using your ears
When we truly listen, we use all of our senses. For me, listening well includes being aware of how that podcast or article makes you feel. It’s allowing yourself to explore the ideas shared and connecting to the themes, what you like, what you agree with and what you don’t think is true.
I’m not saying my son doesn’t do these things, but it’s so much easier to shut ourselves off when we’re “noise cancelling” than when we’re open to explore with all of our senses.
What do you do when something doesn’t feel right?
Do you ignore the feeling hoping it will go away? Or do you acknowledge it and then act on that by exploring the options available to you in that moment?
That’s what I mean by making it easy to listen to yourself. It’s recognising discomfort, happiness, ease, anger. I don’t believe you need to get rid of those emotions as they’re all part of what makes us human. I’ve recently enjoyed reading Shannon O’Flaherty‘s book, “Controlling your hidden emotions – How to make friends and live with your emotions”, which I know I’ve often tried to keep hidden.
Emotions aren’t simply a response to a situation, an idea, or a person. Emotions are a way our body is communicating something to us and reminding us that we need to listen. If we choose to ignore these emotions the feelings get stronger. We often go around in circles, often spiralling out of control, don’t we?
Personally I was never taught to embrace my emotions. When my ideas were quashed at an early age and I wasn’t listened to I started hiding myself and my ideas away. This turned into a belief that I wasn’t good enough. I’m not alone in having this limiting belief.
Whatever limiting beliefs we have creates a barrier with our true nature. We start to squash our own ideas because we believe that what our inner voice is telling us isn’t good enough, or not worthy of sharing with others. Even though our inner voice is always there, we often use “noise cancelling” activities to prevent us from listening easily to what comes naturally to us.
It’s easy to listen when you choose to hear
However much our parents, families and friends love us, they can’t hear your inner voice. Only you can. It’s easy to listen to if you allow yourself to hear.
In my experience I’ve kept myself busy for years to avoid listening to my inner voice! 😉 It’s fruitless in the end! It’ll find a way to make you hear. In my life I had to experience poor health, (I wasn’t listening to what my body needed so it got sick) to get to the point where I knew I had to change something. I wanted to change things, and that’s when I started to listen – to my body and my inner voice.
I’m sure you’ll know people who’ve had a life changing situation that has caused them to change something in their lives. You don’t have to wait for a challenging time to start listening to yourself. You can start today by switching external distractions off, just for a few minutes, and listening. If you’ve not connected to your inner voice recently don’t be surprised if you can’t hear it straight away. It’s there.
I really like Bridget Finklaire’s portrayal of her main character’s inner voice in her fun book Red Dress. Sometimes Katy wants to hear her voice, other times it surprises her when she least expects it. This conversation really resonated with what I’ve experienced, although my inner voice has never been as vocal as Katy’s.
Maybe ask yourself, “what do I have the courage to listen to today?” and allow yourself time to hear what your inner voice wants to tell you.
Leave a comment below about what’s struck you about these thoughts? Do you agree? What emotions have these words provoked in you?
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