The Simplicity of Listening to Your Body
By the time something has manifested as an ‘issue’ or ‘problem’ in your life it has already had an interesting life span. It has enjoyed life as a thought, an intuition, a gut feeling, a gentle nudge or a quiet whisper. How many times have you had an inkling about something that turned into a fully blown problem? When you just knew something was going to go pear-shaped. In fact, if you step back from any problem that you have right now, you might find that this problem has only become a problem because you didn’t listen. To yourself. The quiet whisper that originates with your Heart (your wiser, all knowing self) and is delivered by your body in the form of a ‘gut feeling’, emotion or symptom, is unfortunately something that you have been almost trained to dismiss, ignore or override.
In nearly 10 years of seeing clients I can safely say that ‘not being heard’ would make the ‘Top 5 Hit List’ of stress triggers and childhood wounds. When you think about a stressful memory from your childhood like the time you felt sick but you were forced to go to school or the time you weren’t allowed to go out and play, you may recall feelings of sadness, frustration or anger, but at the very root of your stress is something extraordinarily simple – you didn’t feel heard.
We seem to overlook ‘not being heard’ as a root cause of stress because it seems too simple. Yet not being heard is extremely stressful, sad and infuriating and most of us carry around painful baggage and a relentless undercurrent of inherent frustration at not being heard. But why is it so stressful? Because you want your voice, your feelings and your needs to be acknowledged, respected, valued, and in many cases, acted upon. Listening to someone (and their feelings or thoughts) is a basic form of human respect and when you don’t feel that others are listening to you, you make numerous self-deprecating assumptions or form any number of limiting beliefs: you’re not worth listening to, you don’t have anything important or valuable to say, you’re not important, your opinion doesn’t matter, your needs aren’t important, your feelings are insignificant or invalid…the list goes on. In a sense, not being heard could be seen as the foundation for many of the faulty or limiting beliefs you have about your self-worth, beliefs that have ultimately influenced how you have interpreted all of your life experiences.
The problem with ‘not being heard’ however, is actually not that other people are failing to listen to you (and make you feel important and worthy), it is that you are not listening to yourself. While a parent or authority figure in your life may have ignored you in the past, the problem is not that they ignored you, the problem is that this how you learned to ignore yourself. If your voice, your intuitions or emotions were not listened to or respected, and were instead dismissed, ignored or overridden, then this is what you have been trained to do. This pattern or dynamic of relating to yourself has been ‘installed on the system’ so to speak and is playing out over and over again. To make matters worse, you are probably trying to change this program and resolve the stress of not being heard and its related self-worth issues by trying to make others listen to you, by demanding that they demonstrate respect and honour your opinions and emotions. And of course, they’re refusing to, which exacerbates your anger and frustration at not being heard.
The solution is simple: start listening to yourself. Hearing yourself is healing yourself. When you are prepared to listen to your gut feelings, when you are prepared to stop dismissing or overriding your uncomfortable emotions, when you are prepared to respect your voice, you’ll find that you can heal whatever problem is going on for you. You are taking an important step towards changing the program – you are consciously deciding that your opinion or feeling is worth being heard and you are worthy. It does not matter how ridiculous or irrational that feeling is, you are prepared to hear it and that simple act of listening is, in and of itself, an act of love, respect and understanding. Interestingly, when you perform this loving act of listening to yourself, you will find that it doesn't even matter if anyone else hears you!
But when you dismiss the simplicity of listening to yourself as a solution, you have probably entered into an overly ‘rational’ reasoning of a situation and ‘you are in your head.’ You may be addicted to ‘taking action’ or ‘fixing’ and in a hurry to ‘action’ and ‘fix’ you’re making all sorts of assumptions and jumping to conclusions about what you think you need or what you should need, rather than stopping to listen openly and honestly to your feelings and to the ‘quiet whisper’ about what you actually need.
How annoying is it when someone asks you a question and when you answer them it is ignored, rejected or declared ‘wrong’? How often do you want to scream “WHY ASK ME THEN?!!” Well that is exactly how your Inner Child or Body feels when you fail to listen to its needs, emotions or guidance. You might ask the body what it would like to eat and when it tells you it would like to eat pineapple you shut it down, telling it that it shouldn’t want pineapple because according to the book you’re reading, pineapple is for Blood Type A and you're a Blood Type O. The Mind has spoken, theory and rationality (gleaned from a book) is more important – forget the pineapple. And the Body, the child, is not listened to, its needs have been rejected and its opinions disrespected. And we wonder why we become disconnected from our bodies, and why they don't seem to ‘cooperate’ in our healing regimes and wellbeing goals!
How often do you listen to your innermost self for guidance? And how do you know when you are really listening to an intuition, a feeling or symptom? Here are some of the ways you can ensure that you are effectively listening to yourself:
Listening is a receptive state. Stephen Covey once said that most people do not listen with an intent to understand but with an intent to reply. Often you are not fully listening because you are thinking – in the form of judging, analysing, seeking solutions, recalling memories or thinking about how you are going to reply. Being receptive is a Yin energy of passivity and we often judge passivity as lacking power, so we avoid it, believing we need to direct or project (Yang energy) in order to be powerful. It's time to start practicing being powerful in your passivity. The ability to hold a space of non-judgment, of innocence, detachment and curiosity and to allow information to flow to you is a state of vulnerability, it is a state of totally trusting yourself and it is immensely powerful.
Accompanying receptivity is a state of openness – of listening without judgement, assumptions or preconceived notions. You simply cannot listen openly if you presume to already know the answer. I remember a Kinesiology teacher once saying “if you’re no longer surprised by the results of your muscle testing you may not be doing it properly.” True openness means listening without overlaying what you think you hear, what you think you should hear or what you want to hear. Approach listening with innocence – like you’re about to hear something you have never heard before and prepare to be surprised.
So how can you tell if you're in a receptive state and openly listening? By simply noticing how you feel. Do you feel connected, content and in synch with yourself? What is your body telling you? Remember the Body (child) is an aspect of your consciousness that speaks its own language – it is not a construct of the rational mind, so resist the urge to assume or even ‘make up’ what you think the Body is saying. Just listen. No thinking is required. When you have listened you will feel connected, grounded and in harmony. Simple. When you haven’t listened openly, your body will definitely let you know!
The best part about healing yourself through hearing yourself is that you will stop feeling irritated or upset when others don’t listen to you and you will stop demanding that they do so in order for you to feel important or worthy. Being free of the dependency on how others respond to you is liberating and empowering. You can check in with this by asking yourself: do I trust that what I say is important, even if no-one else but me hears it? When you have heard yourself, you have honoured yourself and a feeling of love, connection and contentment ensues. So, listen up! Your Body will thank you for it.