Perhaps the most important source to listen to is what is genuinely going on in between our ears. We are both our best cheerleaders and worst enemies, and the stories we tell ourselves are convincing enough even to the most skeptical.
The reality of listening to our own thoughts is that they’re messy and as soon as you start tuning in, the mess can get worse (sometimes enough for Marie Kondo to tell you to ‘do one’ and tidy up yourself).
Having studied biochemistry at university, one of the principles of pain and discomfort that resonated most with me was that they exist for a reason. They’re there to tell us that something needs to change.
If we ever need evidence of the creative potential of humans, it’s the myriad of means that we use to avoid feeling these unpleasant sensations. Unhealthy habits from overeating to drinking and ‘being busy’ are all particularly deceptive.
In fact, one recent study at the University of Virginia found that 67% of men and 25% of women would literally rather get an electric shock than to sit quietly and think. Perhaps that bottle of vino is looking more reasonable after all.
A great starting point is to write down thoughts that you ‘hear’ pop into your head and imagine yourself as entirely separate from them. Almost a judge and jury studying the arguments of either side. (And no, you shouldn’t be open to bribes).
Once you learn to separate yourself from your thoughts (a majority of which are ridiculous) you can start to free yourself from revisiting old stories from your life and the limiting beliefs you’ve acquired over the years, even just a smidge.
The best aspect of listening is that as a skill, you will never be truly ‘done’ and there’s always room to improve. Thankfully, ears themselves aren’t muscles in the same way as legs and arms are, otherwise we’d have therapists like Dumbo and politicians who can’t stay upright.
Dec McLaughlin leads Business Development for Pacla Medical, the company behind BackHug
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