So often we dismiss our own thoughts, feelings, needs and desires. We assume that someone else knows better about what we should do, eat, wear, think, feel, want, need. So we silence ourselves. We discount ourselves. We take ourselves out of the conversation. And we listen to others (people who may or may not have our best interest at heart).
Yesterday, I shared different ways we can put ourselves back in the conversation, different ways we can sharpen our listening skills so we can really hear ourselves. Today, I’m sharing five more suggestions.
- Every time you hear yourself say “should,” pause, and check in with yourself. For instance, consider these questions: Does this serve me? Does it support my true intentions and needs? Am I even interested in this? Do I even want to pursue it? Does it feel right for me? Is this more about fear?
- Create your own definitions for words such as: success; self-care; work/life balance; stress; joy; creativity; and exercise. Actually go ahead and write out the definitions in your journal. Or create a separate notebook with your personal definitions. Make it your very own dictionary. You also can include behaviors, activities and habits below each definition as examples. Return to your dictionary monthly or every season to see if you still feel the same way, to see if each definition still rings true. Remember that you get to define what words like success mean to you. That’s the great part about being an adult: It’s totally up to you!
- Create a clear-cut list of yeses and nos. What you want to say yes to. What you want to say no to. Your list might include common requests and activities you like (and dislike). You also might define the types of requests you’ll be happy to meet, and the ones you’ll regrettably decline. If you find yourself having a hard time implementing your list, take some time to consider why. Troubleshoot. Maybe you might benefit from reading an article or book on being more assertive. Maybe you might benefit from starting with small yeses and nos and moving up to bigger ones. It also can help to train yourself to say, “Thanks for asking! I’ll have to look at my schedule, and get back to you” — versus blurting out an immediate “yes!” and being miserable.
- Regularly explore your motivation for doing things. What is your “why”? What are your reasons for wanting to accomplish a certain goal? What are your reasons for certain wants and wishes? Are these wants and wishes coming from a deep, true place or are they someone else’s wants and wishes?
- Pay attention to what piques your interest every day. Pay attention to what resonates with you. Collect what inspires you and arouses a strong reaction, in a positive and not-so positive way. Keep this info in a notebook, file folder or box. You can explore your “why” here, as well. Why do those words resonate with you? Why is that image especially haunting? Why does that sentence delight you so much?
Listening to ourselves doesn’t mean tuning out words of wisdom from others, from loved ones, from books, from therapists, from people we admire. It simply means tuning in to ourselves. It means acknowledging that our voices are important. It means checking in with our needs and desires. It means checking in with ourselves for all decisions.
Not only is this healthy, not only does it create a fulfilling life, but it also helps to rebuild the self-trust that might’ve shattered years ago.
P.S., On my creativity blog I’m giving away one copy of a beautiful self-reflective journal called Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration. All you have to do to enter is share what inspires you in this post. Comment by Tuesday, the 17th, at 11:59 p.m. EST. (Also, it’s only open to U.S. readers. Sorry about that!)