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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Learning to Hear Myself

For the second essay in my listening class, I was asked to discuss my ability to listen to myself. In that paper, the idea that I was deaf to myself emerged. I realized I had paid little attention to my intrapersonal communication. When I began to listen, I heard myself saying, "I need to do ___." Fill in the blank with any common chore. I discovered I mentally assign myself quite a few tasks to do around the house. Other messages were about the way I was feeling. The most frequent were "I am tired", "I am hungry", "I am scared", and "I am nervous". I was not hearing myself saying anything positive or encouraging.

For my next essay, I was required to listen to myself while alone in a nature setting five times. The first two times I was unsuccessful at hearing anything meaningful, but on the third outing I received a message. I told myself that all the expectations I had put on myself for the weekend were unnecessary.  My inner voice gently stated that I got done what I got done and that it was enough. I had been feeling internal pressure about not accomplishing everything that needed to be done in preparation for the week ahead within the two days allotted. To be honest, I had slept and relaxed some and my consciousness was telling me that taking a break to rest was allowed and beneficial to me. Ironically, for a 2014 New Years resolution, I had said that this year I would go easier on myself. This was a timely reminder of that intention.

On my final listening in nature session for class, I received a deeper message while sitting next to a lake. My attention was on the water and I noticed the waves moving by. My thoughts were on my family. My inner eye brought up an image of a water park lazy river with me in one rubber raft and my family members on their own rubber rafts. We were clutching each other by the arms to stay together as we floated. Eventually, we broke apart and I saw my family drifting away ahead of me in the lazy river current. My inner voice said, "Let go, let go, let go." Then, I told myself that something essential within me remains.

These reflections addressed my recent feelings of loss due to family members moving away from me. I looked out at the lake again and noticed how all of it its expanse is contained within a single body of water. I thought that even if I were in the lake on this side and a family member was across the lake we were still connected by being in the water. It was comforting to me to ponder that a sort of proximity exists even across distances.

I plan to continue to listen outdoors in nature. There is something calming about nature that allows my inner voice to speak up if I am willing to pay attention.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Deaf to Myself

This semester in grad school, I have been taking a class on listening. I never had a chance to take a listening class before so I was wondering what it would be like. At the beginning, I was inwardly hostile to the idea of learning how to improve my listening. I felt as though I did plenty of work already being hard of hearing and struggling to hear what other people said. Thank you very much! In fact, I had structured much of my day around not having to listen. I found sustained listening tired me out and gave me headaches.

My teacher has given me an entirely new perspective on listening. She says that to be able to listen to others you have to listen to yourself first. She calls that intrapersonal communication. This was a new term to me and something I did not learn about when I got my undergraduate degree in communications twenty-five years ago.

My teacher told us that trust is a gift you give to yourself. I have not been in the habit of trusting myself or validating my internal thoughts and feelings. I had always been taught to put others' needs and opinions ahead of my own. But in this class, I learned about standing in your personal power, paying attention to what you actually experience in your life, and creating the life you want through your thoughts and words. My teacher said, "Patience is the crux of listening. Be patient with yourself then others. To care about another person can often be expressed best through listening. To care about yourself can also be best expressed by listening."

I realized that until now I have been deaf to myself.