Who do you listen to, and why?

In my work as a therapist, listening is a must. This isn't just listening to words, but to the thoughts and deeper beliefs ... listening to the body language, the quiet pauses, the voice (especially if we are on the phone). It's truly an honor to listen to those who come to me ~ as they become vulnerable and either with reluctance or with a rush, their struggle is shared.

It's been interesting to observe, that for much of my life, I would often listen more to others than myself. I encouraged others to tune into their bodies, even when I forgot to tune into mine. I encouraged them to hear their heart, when I had not heard mine. But instead of tearing myself down for this, I have come to realize > teachers can teach what they want to learn.

A huge, ginormous part of self-care and self-love involves self-listening. Listening to it all:

* the negative, hurtful things I say to myself,

* the sensations of my body sending off warning alerts,

* the feelings deep down that I will somehow make it through to a more peaceful, confident and happy life experience.

I remember once getting a bagel at a corner shop. Two parents and two teens - one boy and one girl were so close at the next table, I had to overhear them ;) The girl wanted to take guitar as a high school class. The parents were berating her - telling her how pointless that would be. It was a waste of time.

Somehow, the forces aligned and both parents and the brother went to fill their drinks at the soda fountain. It was my cue to do that also, and on the way I said, "Hold on to your desire to play guitar! It's an important thing!"

I think the girl must have told her parents what I said because when we were all seated again, they were looking at me with disdain. I began to wonder, "Was it my place to intervene and say something?" or "Should I have kept my mouth shut?"

I guess it's my belief that this girl needed someone to stand with her as she listened to her heart. I will likely never know how her musical story went. But the whole situation reminded me of the power of who we listen to and why.

When I think of myself, and also of the girl, and the many clients I have worked with, it is my hope we will pay attention to who we listen to. And maybe reconsider!!

As children, we are susceptible to what others believe and to what they teach us. How do we know that parents, teachers, coaches, and friends may NOT know what they are talking about? They could be filling our heads with thoughts of limitation, lack, settling. They may offer ideas that are not our truth.

We listen because we are taught others know more than we do. Many of us are deeply brainwashed that wisdom lies outside us, not within. We are imprinted with fears ~ it seems safer. We are being warned by our lineage, by our teachers, by our peers that staying in safe waters is safe.

And so comes the value of sorting! Self-care and self-love > depends on self-listening > depends on sorting!

Whether we are sorting the thoughts others share with us, or we are sorting our own thoughts > we can put them in piles. Kind of like the book "The Art of Tidying Up," but different!

1) There are thoughts that bring us down and come directly from the teachings of others. These are thoughts related to being responsible for other's problems. These thoughts would preach it's better to put others ahead of yourself, but not from an inspired perspective. These are thoughts that you are not worthy to do what you want. These are socks with holes in them and have to go into the cleaning rags stash!

2) There are thoughts that bring us down and we can't think of anyone who ever specifically taught us the thought. Sometimes we just seem to absorb ideas. It's not like anyone ever exactly said, "You can't do this, be this, have this...," but we have somehow decided we have limitations and lack within us. These thoughts are like the jacket that no longer fits and needs donated to Source wisdom for some readjustments!

3) There are thoughts that say, "Maybe I can feel better," "Maybe I am meant to feel good," "Maybe I do deserve better treatment." These thoughts can sometimes just be faint glimmers of hope. Let's keep trying those on until we grow into them!

4) There are thoughts that say, "I am worthy right now, to listen to my heart, to feel good, to follow my bliss in this moment!" Eureka! These are keeper thoughts! I'm going to wear this amazing ensemble every single day!

The body is a great GPS or radar system for sorting these thoughts. When we think this thought _______, how does it feel? When we think that thought________, how does it feel?

I love sharing who Wanda Petunia is and what she's about with girls. I always ask them what they say about themselves. If they say hurtful, unkind things to themselves, I also ask them where do they feel those thoughts in their bodies? Some girls know, and some don't :( And, so I help them practice feeling that, noticing that. And, we practice feeling how good "better feeling thoughts" feel!

It is my own desire to keep sorting thoughts, and to keep cultivating more awareness of the body as radar. What thoughts and experiences make my stomach hurt and leave me sighing? What thoughts and experiences make my heart sing?

I imagine myself being told what I cannot do, what doesn't make sense, what's selfish. Then, the person telling me all that decides to go refill their drink. Just then, an older Me sweeps by and says, "Listen to and follow your heart, I know you can!"

Photo: I met my young friend Maelanne during my French artist residency. We spent the afternoon together - labelling things in English and French to teach each other. Being in another culture with an unfamiliar language taught me alot about the thoughtfulness in using words! What do I really want to say to myself and others ~ only what speaks of Love!

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