We’ve been told to listen to our elders. Listen to people when they are speaking to us. Listen to what our customers, clients, coworkers, bosses want from us.  Pay attention in school. We’re essentially told of the value in listening to the world around us in order to have a full, engaged understanding of our world.

But what about ourselves?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten so good at listening to other people that when I have to make a decision for myself, I tend to want to reach out to everyone and anyone I can to make the decision. Oh, except for one person. MYSELF.  What is up with that?

We listen to others in order to:

  • Deepen our relationships
  • Learn new things
  • Get a better job
  • Get a raise
  • Get a promotion
  • Understand our spouses
  • Support our friends
  • Encourage people we care about
  • Give people advice to make changes
  • Give & Receive Love

Hmmm…just looking at this list makes me wonder how I missed the whole “listening to myself” thing.  If I could simply turn off the chatter, look inside and get all the support, advice, power, love, acceptance, and answers, wouldn’t that save a lot of time and energy I spend looking for others to fill those holes?

Um. Yes. I think so.

Over the last month, I’ve been taking big strides to listening to myself more.  I’ve done some crazy things — and I’ve made some big decisions…all with the help of little ‘ole me.

But I won’t lie…it hasn’t been easy making the shift to making decisions on my own. I literally have to tell myself to shut the <bleep> up and listen.  And if you know me, you know I didn’t say bleep…perhaps “shut the fudge up” or “shut the front door”, but not bleep.

Today, I’m going to share with you the top 4 tips to listen to yourself and get all the clarity & answers you’ll ever need:

1. Sweat It Out or Shut It Down.
First things first – you’re going to need to quiet your mind.  This can be done with a number of different techniques, but you will have your own take on whatever will work in the long term. I exercise, go for a walk or simply close my eyes in a quiet room.  You might quiet your mind by doing the dishes, cutting firewood (ya, you know me and firewood!) or taking a few deep breaths or by clearing out your email inbox.  *Note: I highly suggest finding something physical to do. Workouts and movement are one of the best ways to clear your head.

2.  Stop Multi-Tasking.
Next you have to kind of hang with “it” and be still (mentally).  I read this post on Zen Habits recently that immediately calmed me down.  http://zenhabits.net/be-still. This post does it for me. It works when I’m trying to sit still and not go insane.

*If you’re not sure you need this, ask yourself this question, if you had to sit still in a yoga class and meditate, would you start to get itchy? Physically itchy? Then, the answer is YES.

3.  Just Breathe.
If you haven’t tried some simple breathing exercises, I encourage you to do some now. There are so many real reasons to breathe deeply and do it often, so you are missing out if you aren’t spending a few minutes a day doing some conscious breathing. This recent video on Valerie Waters site with yoga instructor Tom Morely gives a great, simple one that left me feeling refreshed and energized…and above all it cleared my mind and gave me a little head room to make some key decisions.

4. Go off the grid.

Do a minimum of 1 activity each week (work up to 1 per day) you can categorize as self-care. I’m talking hot baths, a massage, a yoga class, acupuncture session, a nap. Whatever you can do to start putting importance on taking care of yourself…go to a bookstore, if that makes you feel amazing.  And take 1 full day off anything ANYONE around you (including yourself) would consider work. Don’t say to yourself — oh this doesn’t feel like work. If it isn’t lounging by the pool, going for brunch, reading a fiction book, having a picnic, going shopping….or something along those lines…then it’s work.

After a week or two of doing this, sometimes sooner if you really let go a bit, you’ll be feeling clearer, stronger, and ready to take action on whatever you’ve been putting on hold.

Results In Action

This week was my breakthrough week. I’ve been slowly dismantling my need to do something every second of the day, stopped trying to control every situation around me, and I let the week unfold without getting overwhelmed.

I’m in the middle of a move, working on multiple online projects, seeing clients, taking care of my 2 year old, packing, dealing with our annoying building management, and yet I listened to what I needed and added a trip to the acupuncturist and 2 tough training sessions to the mix.

So, I know this can be done. And the results are always the same when I take the time to stop and listen to myself.

So here’s what I want you try right now:

1. Think about how you’re feeling right now
2. Ask yourself what would make you feel great right now
3. Then, go do that thing.

It’s pretty simple.  Tell yourself what you need, listen and then give yourself what you need.

Please share this post with your friends and remind them to start listening to themselves too!