My hubby and I are very lucky to have two young sons, and like many parents we use reward charts (on and off). One day while updating their charts for another week I read one of the ‘rules’ we’d written – “Listen and Do”.
What struck me was not that we were asking our children to listen to us and do what we asked them to, but that as adults we often do not listen to our own inner voice guiding us in the right direction, but instead listen to others and often end up going a way that feels uncomfortable or just plain wrong.
In the past if I even bothered to listen to my own inner voice telling me to do something I would usually completely ignored it because it upset someone or didn’t fit in with their plan or would rock the boat. It didn’t make me feel any better and in fact probably only served to make me feel even more worthless than I did before. My self-esteem wasn’t particularly high and this approach wasn’t helping!
Fortunately now I am slowly learning to listen a lot more to my ‘gut feeling’ and try to let people know in a kind but firm manner when things just don’t sit right with me and that I am going to do something that does, no matter who that is. I have actually been amazed that not only has this gone down OK with those who I care about, but it has actually made them think about what they are asking and to be interested in what I am doing instead. In a strange sort of positive feedback effect, it actually improves my self-esteem each time and in the process I get better at listening and so on.
So, try to catch yourself whenever anyone asks you to do something and notice how it makes you feel. Perhaps friends want to go out to a scary movie and it’s just not your thing. You could suggest seeing another movie or doing something different altogether. If they still want to go, then skip it and treat yourself to a great movie at home… You never know, you might just enjoy yourself!
You won’t always get to have things your own way, but if you remember to ‘Listen and Do’ and follow your own path, you will feel more fulfilled and those who are really important to you will get to see you for who you really are – and isn’t that a fantastic gift?!