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Learn to Listen

By Stephanie Marston

Have you ever thought about how much of your life is focused on other people? I think you'd be shocked if you did. We stifle our own voice under the needs of our spouse/partner or boyfriend/girlfriend, children, family and work. And as a consequence many of us have lost track of ourselves. In effect, we've surgically implanted earplugs into our ears and stopped listening to our needs, feelings and longings. That's why it's so essential that we learn to listen to ourselves.

I know, you're probably thinking, what in the world is she talking about, I listen to myself all the time. I know when I'm hungry, when I'm tired, I know when I need a decafe latte. But I'm talking about another kind of listening, something far more challenging. I'm suggesting that you quiet the chatter in your mind so that you can begin to hear the voice of your soul-your Inner Wise Self, your intuition.

Your Wise Self, you maybe wondering? This is the part of you that knows--your inner wisdom. Yes, you do have one. Everyone does. Some people call it their higher power, the divine, intuition, their soul, regardless of how you identify it this Wise Self will connect you with a calm, knowing place within you. This inner voice, when listened to will guide you to make decisions that are in your own best interest.

It's like sending listening device into depths of ocean to discover buried treasure. We have to go below the fracas of the world to find out what resides in the deepest recesses of our beings.

Before the days of baby monitors, parents used to keep one ear tuned to their sleeping child in the next room. We have to listen to ourselves with the same attentiveness. Yet many people are afraid of what they might hear when they truly listen. Even if feelings of sadness or despair percolate out of the stillness, it is ultimately good news.

I know you might be saying to yourself, "What is she nuts? Why would I want to make room in my life for those unpleasant feelings?' But our feelings are messengers. They're there for a reason. We need to know how we feel. We need to hear how tired we are, how disappointed or disillusioned, how stressed or bored we are. It's only when we listen that we can recognize what's out of balance in our lives. What we discover, may lead us to make different choices. But even when it doesn't, we will likely achieve greater clarity and purpose.

Let me tell you a story about what can happen when we listen to our intuition.

When business magnate Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton Hotels wanted to buy the Stevens Corporation at auction, he submitted a sealed bid for $165,000. When he awakened the next morning with the number $180,000 in his head he quickly changed his bid to $180,000. This successfully secured the company and earned a $2 million profit. The next highest bid was $179,000.

Whether you're a real estate investor who hears a voice in the middle of the night, a woman who is making a crucial decision about her career or a parent struggling with issues about their children, trust your intuition. It's a wisdom you can count on.

Yet, in order to discover this voice we have to delve beneath the racket of the world that plays in our minds like a constant stream of top ten heavy metal hits. Don't get me wrong. This is no easy feat. Quieting your mind is a lot like taming a roomful of toddlers. It's not impossible, but it certainly requires commitment and effort. But it's an effort well worth making. After all, how are you going to know what you want in your life if you don't take the time to listen to yourself?

From your Wise Self you will learn whom to trust, which paths to take, when to make others a priority and when to focus on yourself. Your Wise Self is the seat of your inner knowing.

Learning to listen requires that we slow down long enough to hear the wisdom of our souls. But this is a challenge in a culture that encourages us to go ever faster.

I was recently on my way to a meditation retreat when I was pulled over by a state trooper. I was in such a hurry to learn how to slow down that I got a ticket for speeding. So I'm not saying that slowing down is easy. It isn't. But it is essential. If nothing else, we must at least make the effort.

But let's be realistic, our culture doesn't support people in spending time alone. In fact, it's often considered taboo. In our materialistic, success driven society spending time alone is often considered wasted time. It's goes against everything we've been taught about being a successful person, but a certain amount of time alone is not only necessary, but, essential.

Think about it for a minute, people who spend time alone are often accused of being self-absorbed, self-centered and egotistical. Not qualities any of us want to be associated with. As if that weren't enough, the other road block is that people, especially those with whom we are the closet, often take it as a rejection or think that something's wrong with us, or that we're withdrawn. And the unfortunate truth is that many people accept this as reality.

Consequently when we feel the need for solitude we often feel uncomfortable. Our guilt demon rears its ugly head and convinces us that we can't possibly justify doing nothing. When we choose solitude we are swimming against the cultural tide.

But the truth is that when we spend time alone we're nurturing our developing self. Time alone provides us with time to reflect on our day, our past, our future, our dreams. But don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that you become a navel gazer, far from it. The truth is that as we spend time alone we recharge our batteries. So when we do re-enter our everyday lives, we do so with a new focus and sense of purpose.

We have to create time in our lives in which to listen. Don't panic. I'm not suggesting that you abandon your family and friends and join a convent. But, what I am saying is that it's essential that you make time for yourself everyday. Yes, everyday. Let's put things in perspective. You feed yourself three times a day and sometimes more. Time alone is food for your soul. Set aside at least 10 minutes everyday. For some people sitting is the path to quieting their mind, but for others it may be soaking in a hot bath, walking in the woods, doing yoga or martial arts, gardening-the important thing is to discover your way to connect with your Wise Self.

When you take time to listen not only will you reap the rewards of your inner wisdom, but you'll discover a sense of peace that comes from getting in touch with the essence of your being. As a result your life will be enriched immeasurably.

Stephanie Marston is an acclaimed speaker and author. She speaks from experience. Stephanie is the go to expert for those who seek to create quality driven lives. Stephanie is America's foremost life balance expert. Her new CD program, 30 Days to Sanity contains powerful, innovative, practical tools to reduce stress, balance work and family and make time for what truly matters. Stephanie is the author of Life Lessons for Women: 7 Essential Ingredients for a Balanced Life and If Not Now, When? Reclaiming Ourselves at Midlife. For more information visit

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