The world moves fast. And more often than not, we need to hustle to keep up with everything happening around us. But the fact is, if we don’t make the time to schedule a break every once in a while, our bodies and minds will take that break for us. And, chances are, the timing won’t be ideal.
Yes, going slow may seem counterintuitive — particularly when we’ve got places to go, things to do, chores to complete, and especially when we have kids to raise. But taking a moment to identify and address our own needs isn’t exactly a choice.
So, if you want to do something genuinely impactful for your physical and emotional well-being this year, perhaps it’s time to learn how to listen to your inner self.
Set Aside Quiet Time to Be Able to Hear Your Intuition
Self-reflection is impossible if you’re unwilling (or unable) to listen. The first step toward learning how to listen to your inner self is to give yourself the quiet time you need to allow your inner voice to cut through the noise.
Think about it. Drowning out your intuition with distractions — whether by taking on more chores than you can do or seeking entertainment at every possible moment without allowing yourself to pause — can be effective at keeping your mind away from your problems. But, at the end of the day, it’s also the shortcut toward failing to listen to your body and mind.
So, if your mission for the upcoming period includes learning to listen to your inner self, set aside some much-needed quiet time for self-reflection. This introspection can come in the form of journaling. You can take a walk in a space where you won’t be disturbed. Or you can take up sky meditation, which is scientifically proven to treat stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues.
Examine Your Thoughts and Emotions
Yes, listening to your inner self can be a super-effective method of self-care. But only if you understand why you’re having specific thoughts or experiencing particular emotions.
For example, the imposter syndrome you feel at a fancy work event isn’t a sign that you’re not good enough, that you should give up on your professional dreams, and that you’re a fake. Instead, it’s a signal that you need to learn to recognize your strengths just as much as you do with your weaknesses. Even more, it’s a cue to expose yourself to more situations where you’re not the most accomplished person in the room. After all, it’s better to be a small fish in a big pond than the biggest fish in a small one.
The main obstacle people encounter when learning to listen to their inner thoughts and feelings is that they don’t hold the key to decoding their introspections. So, if you want to equip yourself to make the most of your new findings, you must take action to turn each new self-discovery into an opportunity for growth.
Yes, musing over our newly discovered emotions can be a great way to get to know ourselves. But don’t underestimate the power of conversation and of an unbiased opinion.
To learn how to transform your intuition into a guiding light, you need to invite new knowledge and opinions into your life. Reading works great, for example. (Yes, even fiction can allow us to identify with certain characters and the situations they find themselves in.) Talking with a trustworthy friend is even better — especially when you don’t know what to make of a situation they may have experienced themselves.
But hiring the help of a highly qualified therapist is the best. They will give you objective guidance on how to turn your inner musings into life lessons. Even more importantly, they can also help you identify and remove roadblocks that may have been hindering your journey toward self-actualization in the first place.
Prepare for the Possibility You Might Not Like What You Hear
Deciding to listen to your inner self (and even taking the time to do so) will be the easy part of your journey to self-discovery. The more challenging aspect of introspection is the possibility of not liking what your gut (or heart) tells you.
For most of us, our behaviors, thoughts, and habits are protective systems — honed for years to prevent us from getting physically or (more often) emotionally hurt. But the truth is, these defense mechanisms often prevent us from reaching our full potential. They can stop us from approaching relationships with a healthy mindset. They can cause us to procrastinate instead of going after our goals. And they can even drive us to self-sabotage.
So, if you want to learn how to listen to your inner self, you have to prepare for the possibility that you might make discoveries that you don’t like. However, instead of being afraid of these challenges and doing your best to prevent them from appearing in the first place, do your best to re-frame them as opportunities for growth.
That way, you will turn your introspection habits into a form of self-care. Plus, you’ll feel more comfortable with the very act of self-reflection and the explorative journey it entails.
Paying attention to how you feel — physically, mentally, and emotionally — may not come naturally to you. But you can rest assured that learning to listen to yourself will lead to positive outcomes.
Sure, the road to self-discovery may be difficult. And it will probably last a long time (even possibly without an end). But learning to tune in to your intuition and listen to your heart when making decisions will allow you to be in touch with yourself. And that will prevent you from making the wrong life choices, which is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to yourself.