Listening to Yourself

 

This week, we're going to talk about something a little bit different regarding listening.

How you listen to yourself.

Do you let the thoughts in your head and what comes out of your mouth run on through, or do you stop and actually listen to yourself?

We'll look at this through four different lenses -- commitment, general speaking, influencing/impacting others, and when you are empathizing.

As you begin to examine self-listening from these four lenses, you may find other lenses. That's useful because how you listen to yourself materially impacts what you can accomplish in the world. Your self-listening is more critical to your experience of satisfaction and your happiness than you might realize.

Commitment

How are you listening to yourself when you make a commitment or a promise? Do you wonder if you should be committing, or committing this much, this soon? Are you thinking about how excited you are to promise something to yourself or to others? Do you have certain emotions/feelings that come up when you commit or promise to do something? Do you have an experience in your body? Maybe you get a little flushed or you go really still or nothing happens to your body?

What happens when you make a commitment? When you commit, what do you hear as you listen to yourself commit?

If you listen to your external commitments, you might hear things in your head like: 'Well, I hope I do that. I hope I that turns out," or "Pull back on those outcomes a bit just in case I can't do it," or "I will if I can. I'll definitely try."  

Right there in our thoughts is a kind of self-sabotage. We are already retreating from our promises by giving ourselves an out. We create ways of being okay with less than we want to commit to so we don't have to experience failure or disappointing others.  

Being to listen to the thoughts and emotions that you experience when you commit to the hard things. 

General Speaking

For each of these lenses, my question is, "Are you awake to what comes out of your mouth?"

Do you listen to yourself speak? Are you wondering, "how is my speaking gonna land on the people I'm talking to?" Are you awake to your speaking even when you're hanging out with friends or family? Are you thoughtful about what you say? Are you awake to it? Or do you throw out your words without thinking?

Maybe you think because you're chatting -- you're just talking -- that it doesn't matter. And maybe sometimes it truly doesn't matter what you're saying. But most of the time it does. What you're saying almost always matters. It matters for how your speaking affects others, for how others think of you (reputation), for whether you clearly communicated what you meant. You are your actions. Action isn't only what your body does, it is also what comes out of your mouth. 

How do you listen to what you're saying? Do you listen to what you're saying as throw away or as not mattering? Or as inconsequential, or, "It's fine. It's just playing." This isn't a problem if you are awake and aware of your play and your intentions for what happens to others from your words.   

Listen to your regular, daily speaking. This week, start to find out, start to wake up, and think about that. Do you listen to yourself?

Influence/Impact

Speaking to influence may be one of our most important activities. If you want something to happen, to produce a result, to realize an outcome it is rare that you can do this yourself. That means we need others. When we need others to help produce outcomes, we need to engage (or influence) them.

When you want to influence or impact other people, do you plan what you will say? Do practice what you'll say out loud so you can listen to how they might hear it?  

Do you listen to yourself with any negative judgments? Do you listen with harsh evaluations of how you speak? Or, when you listen, do you hear that you don't speak at all? What do you notice that you choose to say? Or don't say?

My clients share about these kinds of opportunities and say things like, "I wish I wouldn't have said that," or, "I can't believe I said it that way," or, "I wish I wouldn't speak off the cuff so much. I wish I'd actually prepare."

Do you listen to yourself attempting to engage people on social media? Do you think to yourself, "I'm right and they just need to be convinced that they're on the wrong path"? Do you listen to see if you're curious in your post, or do you listen from that you have the answer and people who don't agree are idiots? Do you take a minute to wonder how people who don't agree with you will receive what you've posted? Do you listen to see if you've expressed your caring about people who are on the opposite side of your opinion?

I'm particularly passionate about this aspect of our listening skills right now. If we deeply listen to ourselves from our commitments to other human beings, from our commitment to community, from our commitment to work things out together, much of what get's posted on social media would get erased before it's posted.

Listen as if you're the recipient of your message. Before you speak, notice if you are speaking from a fixed mindset (your way or leave the country). Particularly notice if you are righteous about your view (this is the 'I'm right and everyone who disagrees is an idiot, a sheep or a snowflake).

Practice listening to yourself and others as if you do not know all the answers. 

This week, listen to yourself when you are attempting to make an impact or to influence others. What do you hear? Do you hear curiosity? Do you hear genuine interest in others? Do you hear openness? You don't have to change anything just yet. Just listen. See what you notice. 

Empathy

Finally, when you listen to yourself when you mean to convey empathy, what do you hear? When you listen, can you hear your feet slipping into their shoes? When you're fully connecting with another human being, do you listen for your own heart in the conversation?

Do you listen for your the state of your emotional tone? Do you listen to your body language? Does it also convey your empathy?

 

Your assignment this week is to listen to yourself - listen to yourself responding to others. Notice if your listening of yourself changes with the circumstances -- the places and people you are interacting from and with. Notice what happens when you bring awareness of your listening to yourself. What happens? Notice what happens when you consider how everyone in your friends list might receive your social media communications.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.

Find out something you didn't already know.

Have a great week.

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