Learning to listen…

I’m not a good listener. Not to me anyway. I’m pretty good at listening to other people, but when my life is speaking, I tend to be focused on other things. Last year, I had pneumonia. Everyone said, listen to your body. Don’t push it. Wait until you are better. I don’t really understand that. I called my sister and confessed that I don’t know how to listen to my body. Her advice to me was after you feel good enough to go back to work, wait two more days. We are not good listeners.

The older I get, the more important this seems to be. I am working on it, but the language is slow and hard to understand. I’ve found that there are three specific areas I need to pay more attention to.

Listen to my thoughts: If I can step back enough to pay attention, my thoughts will tell me a lot about what is happening in my life. When I listen, I notice patterns. When I realize that I am rehearsing an argument with my husband, alone in my head, it may be time to address it in real life. When I find myself wrestling a topic to the ground, maybe I need to pay attention. Watching where my thoughts go when they are unattended can give me clues to things I need to address in my life, or maybe new areas of growth.

Listen to my feelings: I am mostly a fan of ignoring big emotion. This practice hasn’t really served me well. Tears and anger tend to overflow from emotion I am avoiding. Taking the time to identify pockets of emotion are always a good idea. Feeling them, well that’s an option too. When I wade in, I find that simply identifying big emotion can provide perspective. Those tears that well up, come from a pocket of sadness and loss. It’s good for me to understand that and give myself the room to process it. What is the frustration trying to tell me? How can that anger serve me? What does fear have to teach me? Emotions are there to try and help me navigate my life, learning to listen to them without allowing them to control me. Now, that’s the trick.

Listen to my body: Honestly, this is the hardest for me. My therapist told me I live too much in my head. What does she know? Migraine headaches, lower back pain, stomach troubles are all ways that my body tries to get my attention. I’ve too often fought back at these things with medication rather than attention. Stress can play a huge role in the way my body feels, but rather than listen, I push through to meet the next deadline and responsibility. Listening to the pain, learning from it, noticing patterns are all important to my health and vitality.

Recently, someone I love said she felt betrayed by her body because it wasn’t working right and she had to take some medication to deal with an issue. As we talked, I realized that this happens in my life, when I have betrayed myself and failed to listen to what my life was trying to tell me. There isn’t another important relationship that I would neglect as I have this one. I am committed to learning this language and honoring my own life, in the same way, I would a good friend. I am finding that as I learn this language, my next challenge will be how I respond to what I learn. What steps will I take to organize my life in a way that not only looks presentable but feels good on the inside.

Are you fluent in the languages of your life? or like me are you still learning them?

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