As I type this essay, I am lying in bed thinking about all the things I have left to do before I can honestly get a good night’s sleep. I currently have several calls to return, a poem that has been burning a hole inside of me begging me to write it, a disheveled room that needs a quick tidy and sweep and a chapter in my book that needs to be completed before the rain lulls me into its sweet surrender. But regardless of all these things I have left to do, I feel most compelled to write this right now because if I don’t, I will lose my mind. Somehow sanity takes precedence over the million and one things left to accomplish before nights end.
This cycle of never ending chores and existential maintenance has become my life and from what I hear, the lives of most people living in generation overtaxed and underappreciated. There is always something vying for our attention, leading us to distraction, forcing our hand to juggle a menagerie of priorities while multi-tasking a series of small tasks in order to make headway in our days. And even still, there are just some things that will be left undone by days end because sometimes, there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything you want to do done even when you make lists and budget your time effectively.
Despite having virtually no time to do everything I want to do, I try to prioritize the important things like ME time.
This occasionally leads to feelings of guilt as I often feel I should be doing something else when engaged in personal time with myself. It’s like those other important things I have left to do are contemptuous bitter mistresses that seek to undermine the fidelity I try to enjoy with myself and yet I always have this nagging fear of missing out that causes me to peek over the fence and look at the grassy responsibilities that I could be checking off my to-do list thinking they are greener when in actuality, they are not.
I realized that in my attempt to build Rome in a day and accomplish my legacy in the span of 24 hours, I have not been listening to myself. Apart of me found it ironic that I get paid to listen to the lives of other people and yet I do not listen to myself most days. I am blessed with superb listening skills when it comes to listening to the gripes and complaints of other people and yet am conversely cursed with a hearing impairment when it comes to listening and honoring my own needs.
I found that this correlates to my occasional feelings of alienation, isolation and invisibility. I would often complain about feeling ignored, overlooked and unappreciated by others when that was exactly what I was doing to myself. I was not listening to my own needs, needs that cried out for attention but would take a back seat to things and people I deemed more important than myself.
After careful reflection of this epiphany, I realized that listening to yourself is an art that requires you to drown out the negative deconstructive voices that have been drilled into your mind and unconsciously internalized over the years and really hone in on the miraculous speaking voice of your heart. Often times we get lost in a sea of societal mores, imperatives and personal admonitions that lead to a slew of guilty feelings. While intellectually we know we must take care of ourselves and honor our feelings, emotionally we still haven’t made that connection.
So how do we really begin to listen to ourselves and honor the person within?
1. Go home sit in the dark. Sometimes you have to sit in the dark to stand in the light.
2. Ground yourself: Pay attention to every sound you hear. From the clock, to the neighbors in the apartment upstairs from you, to the music found in the stillness of a dark room, really begin to tune into the environment as this will be practice for the next milestone in your journey to the land of self.
3. Pay attention to your own breathing. Listen as you inhale and slowly exhale every breath. Every breath is a stepping stone bringing you back home to you.
4. This is very important. Ask yourself how your day was. Meditate on what worked and what areas could stand some improvement. When meditating on challenges, speak in positive language. Ex: Instead of saying my boss was a complete moron, say something like “today my boss really tested my patience and yet I passed that test with flying colors”. Extrapolate the blessing from the stressing.
5. Sit with yourself and ask yourself questions like: “What do I need in this moment right now?” “What can I do for myself right now irrespective of others to make myself feel good?”. “What is my life trying to tell me at this very moment?”. Really listen to the voice beyond what reason tells you as this is where the core of your emotional experience lies.
Right now my life is trying to tell me that I need to start taking better care of myself by attending to my own needs and listening to the voice of my spirit. My life is telling me to speak up, articulate everything that is important to me no matter how trivial or unimportant others might feel it is. My life is begging for a personal connection and a willing commitment from the only one who can give it-ME. My life is seeking personal matrimony and my hand in marriage. I have graciously accepted its unspoken proposal. I hope you all will do the same and begin to really listen to yourself as this is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. I wish you all continued success in your journey towards self-listening.