This post is for you if you…
- want a way to discover your purpose
- desire to cultivate a practice that will aid in your rapid growth
- are interested in learning how to change your perspective
Tarot Card: The Hanged (Wo)Man
All about perspective, the Hanged (Wo)Man encourages acceptance and a complete trust in the Universe. She encourages a change in view and challenges you to question the way you see the world around you. When this card shows up in a reading, it is a clue that your perspective has stalled and a nudge to open your mind. In shadow, the message is one of stubbornness that leads to self-sabotage.
The Hanged (Wo)Man asks you: What are you holding onto that if let go, could change your life?
The Purpose of this Post
As the year draws to a close, I tend to look forward to what is coming. A new year full of fresh opportunities and chances to do better. Naturally, I gravitate towards the new and exciting, the promise of what is to come. It’s like a hit of adrenaline, the excitement is enough to push you forward and at least do the dreaming of what life could be like if…
However, if I only focus on the idea of what could be without doing any of the behind the scenes work, every year will bring the same thing: a lot of dreaming without going anywhere. The first step to anything is knowing what you truly desire underneath all the layers of conformity you have cloaked yourself with. And to uncover what your authentic self yearns for, you have to listen. Therefore, the purpose of my post is to teach you how you can learn to actively listen to yourself which will in turn, evolve the perspective you hold of what is truly possible for you.
Why is Perspective Important?
Take a minute to think about your life. Where you live, what you wear, your daily responsibilities. What do you love? What do you wish would change? Where do you truly desire to be this time next year?
Like a lot of us, there are parts we are happy with and parts we are not. It is very easy to get bogged down in the negative aspects of life and once you are there, it is very hard to get out of. Hard, but not impossible. A simple change of perspective can work wonders and allow you to view your current circumstances in an entirely new way. A change in perspective enables you to see the big picture which in turn gives you an opportunity to find the root of your unhappiness and discover a solution. It gives you an entirely new understanding and the ability to grab a hold of opportunities that would be missed in a different mindset.
But a drastic perspective change is often harder to put into action than it sounds. So, how can you change the way you view things around and experience a life altering paradigm shift?
I get it, it’s easy to complain and a lot of times, it feels good. And we are really good at it: the average person complains no less than 30 times a day. When you complain, you send a demoralizing message to your brain that nothing is good enough. It gives you a sense of powerlessness, a feeling that nothing will ever go right for you.
Pay attention to your thoughts and what comes out of your mouth for an entire day. See how often you complain (which, by the way, is the adult equivalent of whining). You might be surprised at just how often you do. Tomorrow, as you catch yourself, simply stop. Even if you are mid sentence.
Ban the Word “Should”
In her book Mirror Work, Louise Hay wrote something that has stuck with me ever since I first read it years ago:
Most of us have foolish ideas about who we are and many rigid rules about how life should be lived. Let’s remove the word should from our vocabulary forever. Should is a word that makes prisoners of us. Every time we use the word should, we are making ourselves wrong or someone else wrong. We are, in effect, saying: not good enough.
Look for shoulds in your daily vocabulary. Each time you find yourself using the word, question who made up that rule. For example: “I should go for a run.” Why? Where did this idea come from? Why is it necessary to run instead of walk? How are you sabotaging any efforts to start an exercise routine just because you have heaped so much guilt on your head you feel worthless because you can’t even muster up the energy to go for a run?
Look at the Big Picture
You know the saying: you can’t see the forest because of the trees. Oftentimes, we are so caught up in one small detail that we fail to remember the grand scheme of things. I often ask my children who put so much pressure on themselves over a test whether or not this test will matter a year from now. The answer is always a resounding NO. The same goes for most things you encounter on a daily basis. What seems insurmountable and life changing actually is not.
When you are caught up in life’s little dramas, ask yourself whether this will truly matter a year from now. If the answer is yes, then by all means put your attention on it. A no, however, is a clue to look at the overall picture of things.
Cultivate a Gratitude Practice
If you want an instant change in perspective, gratitude is the easiest way to achieve it. I used to think feeling grateful for something when I was the furthest from it was next to impossible. However, I figured out a way to make it so much easier. For example, if you are upset with your partner for something, it’s exceptionally difficult (at least for me) to switch gears and truly feel happy about a quality they possess. Instead, I learned that just the act of feeling grateful about anything in your life will suffice and gives you an instant mood boost and perspective change.
Find something that makes you happy right now. For me, it is the thought of travel. Do this before you get upset. When you do find yourself irritated or in a less than grateful mood, concentrate on that happy thought. The simple act of shifting your focus onto a better feeling is the catalyst you need to begin your shift in perspective.
Related Reading: 8 Guaranteed Results from Gratitude Journaling
Learn How to Actively Listen
Active listening is as essential to an evolving perspective as sugar is to a cake. It is an art form that is sorely lacking in our society and even more absent when it comes to listening to our authentic self. The benefits of developing a practice of listening are immense and it is especially advantageous when learning how to shift your perspective. When you allow yourself to actually understand what is being said instead of merely hearing words, you grab onto an opportunity for growth.
What is Active Listening?
Listening is more than just hearing. To truly be an active listener, you must fully engage in understanding, assessing and responding to what you hear. Active listening requires your full and undivided attention on the person who is speaking. It keeps you engaged and makes the other person feel seen, heard and understood.
Active listening is not just something reserved for other people. It is also a skill you can use to communicate with who you really are. When you understand what your true desires are and can tune out the other noise, your perspective evolves. When this happens, you can see the bigger picture and release the rules you have set for yourself that prevent you from achieving what you truly want. In other words, when you listen to and recognize the deepest yearnings from your soul, you can finally take the action needed to make those dreams happen. Your true self will finally be seen, heard and understood and you will be on your way to living a purpose aligned life.
Related Reading: Why Active Listening is Important in Developing a Growth Mindset
6 Steps to Actively Listen to Your Soul
Leave the Judgement Behind
As you begin to listen to yourself, it will be easy to judge what you hear. Judgement comes from a lifetime of adhering to rigid societal rules of what is considered “good” and “bad”. Most likely, you are going to hear something that goes against everything you were taught to view as acceptable and it is up to you to challenge those ideas of acceptability. For me, it was my love of tarot. I fought this tooth and nail, convinced I would be ostracized and viewed as weird, and these fears were enough to push my internal desire to learn more aside.
However, once I began to dig into why I held these rules and where they came from, I was able to stop judging my innate desire as unacceptable and start understanding what it was trying to tell me. I did not choose to learn tarot just because but rather it was a result of my desire to connect more fully with my intuition. Once I cleared away the extraneous noise of my ego telling me to run, I understood that my soul was guiding me to a tool that would aid in my intuitive connection.
Pause Before Responding
A lot of us stop listening to what someone is saying so we can start to formulate our response. Instead of falling into this habit, adopt the intentional pause. This is fairly easy but does take some getting used to while you break down your conditioned habits. A key part of active listening is to hear with clarity what is being said. When you start to focus on the thoughts in your head, you miss the opportunity to hear the words as well as understand them since you only take in part of what is being said.
Before you ask yourself (or another person) a question, set an intention to actually listen. To help you do this, when they are done speaking, count to 2 before speaking. This will aid you in staying fully present and not slipping away to focus on something else. Use this time to think about how you will respond.
Remove All Distractions
This means put your phone down, stop reading your email, quit looking for someone else to talk to and pause your tv show. You are here to understand what your soul is telling you and despite your idea you are an amazing multitasker, you aren’t. Studies have shown that only 2.5% of people are good multitaskers. That leaves the other 97.5% of us just thinking we can do 85 things at once and do them well.
To be an effective active listener, it is imperative you just listen. Focus fully on what is being said. This means setting aside time if you can’t give your full attention at the moment. Schedule listening time into your schedule. It may sound weird, but I promise you that if you make time for it, you will notice perspective shifts faster because your listening skills will improve. As always, practice makes perfect.
Dig deeper into understanding by asking follow up questions to things you don’t understand fully. This includes questioning yourself. There are different ways to do this; I prefer asking my tarot cards a question and then interpreting the answer with the help of my intuition. Another way is to keep asking “Why?” each time you receive an answer. This will allow you to get to the root of what your soul is trying to tell you. Or will help you further understand what someone else is actually saying. Questions help you put aside your own assumptions and latch on to the real meaning.
Mirror Your Body Language
If you are listening to another person, pay attention to their body language. Lean in when they do, adopt their facial expressions and mimic their posture. This subconsciously tells them that you are attentively listening to everything they say and encourages them to keep going. It helps foster the feeling of being understood and seen.
If you are practicing listening to your authentic self, adopt the calm demeanor in which your soul communicates. When you feel yourself getting emotional or resistant, you can pretty much guarantee your ego has taken over. In order to have an illuminating conversation with yourself, it is necessary to remain calm so you can hear without being clouded by emotion.
Summarize What You Heard
When the other person (or yourself) is done speaking, repeat back what you heard. This gives them the opportunity to correct any misunderstandings. If you are having a conversation with yourself, use your body as a tool for clarification. After you summarize, look for a physical reaction. If you feel light and expansive, take this as a clue that what you heard is correct. Feeling tight and restrictive instead is a red flag that prompts you to revisit and clarify.
Final Thoughts on Active Listening and Evolving Perspective
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is cutting through the bs and actually listening to what you desire. When you start from a solid foundation of knowing where you are heading, your perspective subtly shifts in ways that help you forward on your chosen path. Eventually, the shift is so great that you finally see the big picture and gain clarity on where you are going and what you are here in this lifetime to accomplish.
Active listening has a large part in this shift and is a practice that will benefit you greatly. By taking small steps forward and slowly changing and challenging the way you have always done things, you will experience a peace in your life that comes from hearing your real voice. You matter and now is a good time to start believing that.
Proud introvert, intuitive entrepreneur, and spiritual activist. On a mission to embolden my fellow introverts to quietly change the world.