Asking questions is easy and common, deep listening with nothing on our mind is difficult and uncommon. We know when we are being really listened to, how we feel about the listener is different because we are thinking about them differently. We want nothing more than to be listened to.
Taking the above at face value I arrived at these questions:
- If I want to be listened to, shouldn’t I practice listening to myself?
- How often do I listen to myself with nothing on my mind?
- If I did really listen, how would I feel about myself?
- Do I critically appraise the thinking I am paying attention to?
In my experience the answers are:
- Of course, that makes complete sense.
- Sometimes, but I could surely do better.
- Better than I do already.
- Not as much as I should.
I have noticed one leads to the other. Once I realise I am not listening to myself, it is easier to do it with nothing on my mind and I naturally find myself challenging my thinking.
Or, it is obvious to me these are choices, which makes them skills, which means I can get better at them.
And the single biggest improvement I have made recently is in challenging myself, especially the unhelpful thinking.
In asking myself “Says who?” and “So what?”, I arrive at the truth:
The answer to “Says who?” is “Me”. It is me telling myself this, it is my perception, my thinking, my responsibility. No-one is making me think this.
The response to “So what?” is incredibly often “It doesn’t really matter, does it?”
And in an instant unhelpful thoughts and feelings evaporate and the feelings.
It took me a long time to realise this simple truth.
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