Every autumn, at the university where I work, I have the opportunity to talk to student leaders about effective communication. During those workshops, we review and practice verbal and non-verbal communication skills and place special emphasis on listening skills, including how to make others feel heard and understood.
No matter how many times I design and facilitate these groups, and no matter how often I use active listening skills in my role as a counselor, I still struggle to listen to my body. I guess I just spent so many years ignoring its needs, believing I knew better. If my body said, “I’m hungry”, I tried to convince it otherwise: “But, I just ate two hours ago.” If my body needed rest, I’d push through my workout until I had completed “at least an hour”. If my body was thirsty, I’d find myself finishing just one more task before I got a drink of water. Being productive was always more important than just being.
Last week, I told someone that I wasn’t feeling heard or understood; I needed more acknowledgement that my feelings and thoughts were valid. In essence, I was asking, “Are you listening to me?”
It dawned on me Friday night that my body often asks me that question: “Are you listening to me, Megan?” So, this weekend I tried to be more intentional about making my body feel “heard”. When I had an urge to go for a walk, I did. When I felt a need to lay down or take a nap, I did. When I was thirsty, I stopped what I was doing and drank some water. When I filled my plate high with dinner, but felt full halfway through the meal, I put the other half away for later. When I had an urge to eat ice cream at the end of my day, I did. When I needed to wash the pollen (SO much pollen!) off my hair and clothes, I chose to pamper myself with a magnolia scented sea salt scrub. In essence, when my body said, “Are you listening to me?”, I responded with a resounding, “Yes!”
It’s amazing how appreciated, valued, and “heard” I feel as a result of that. I’m excited to try to continue this trend. Are you listening to your body?
Peace, joy, and health,