How to Learn to Listen to Yourself

Posted in Balanced Mind and Soul | May 4, 2010 |

listen to yourselfHow many times have you heard the advice “Just listen to yourself”? I must say, that I’ve heard that advice a lot of times and I have given that advice probably just as much.

The idea of “listening to yourself” is really brilliant if you know how to do it. But what if you do not hear the voice that tells you what is right for you and what is not? What if you don’t know what your inner self is telling you? How do you know that listening to yourself is better than listening to all the smart people around you and following their most logical path in life?

When you listen to yourself you make decisions that are right for you. No one else knows what will make you happy (even if they say they do) and bring your life in balance.

If you want to learn to listen to yourself then you have two major tasks: Know yourself and Hear yourself.

Know Yourself

If you know who you are, what your interests are and how you feel about things in life then you can hear your inner voice. A lot of times we don’t know ourselves completely because we are always surrounded by the opinions and expectations of other people.

Maybe one of your parents had a dream that you would be a successful doctor and that dream became your path in life. Was it your dream? Do you really like being a doctor? I almost made the mistake of following the path that my family thought was right for me (yes, their dream for me was to become a doctor) but I am glad that I chose my own way instead.

    1. Become mindful of everything you do. Make it a habit to think about everything you do throughout the day. How does it make you feel? Why are you doing it? What are the results of every action? If you practice mindfulness then you will learn to stop and think clearly about what you are doing. You will know what is going on inside of you every second of your life.

  1. Don’t live by the book. Following a certain route in life (especially the one that was written by somebody else) does not give you any opportunity to listen to yourself. When you feel like doing something (even if it seems very irrational at the moment), go ahead and do it! Okay, everything must be done in moderation and I am not asking you to quit your job if you get mad at your boss. But:
    • If you feel like going for a walk in the rain –do it.
    • If you feel like staying up all night even though you have to go to work tomorrow – do it.
    • If you feel like skipping your workout and going to the movies with your best friend – do it.

    Do something new and unexpected at least once a week and you will become more relaxed about life and you will know your inner self better.

  2. Take care of yourself. Have you ever felt selfish when you devoted some time to yourself rather than spending time with your family or working on a new project at work? I know I did. I also know that if I don’t take care of myself then I lose part of myself. I can’t be a good wife, I can’t be a good mom and I can’t deal with my job too.In order to know yourself you must spend some time regularly doing what you love. I would really suggest that this activity does not include shopping, watching TV or playing video games. You can walk, do some gardening, try a new recipe, swim, paint, write or whatever you feel like doing. If you do what you like then you know how it feels to be calm, relaxed and balanced. This is the feeling you are looking for when you try to listen to yourself.
  3. Find your core belief. Your core belief is the belief that keeps you afloat in any life storm and that lets you walk through life confidently and steadily. If you know what your core belief is then you can turn to this belief when you need to listen to yourself.
    My core belief is my faith (I am a Christian) and I know that the Holy Spirit guides me through life and has never let me down (and never will.) When I need advice then I pray and I always receive the answer and support that works for me.You can have a different core belief and you can discover it after answering a few questions in this post.

Hear Yourself

Once you know yourself it is time to hear yourself. Your inner voice, Holy Spirit, intuition, sixth sense, subconscious mind (choose the right name for yourself) can guide you through life and help you make the right decisions. It does not mean that you will not make mistakes but those mistakes will teach you something too in life.

  1. Declutter your mind. Today we are constantly surrounded by information that often clutters our mind. TV shows, Facebook, Twitter, opinions of people around you, news, blogs (I am taking a risk that you will unsubscribe from my blog after this, but if it brings you mental clarity – I am only for it), magazines and more… You need to have some clear room in your mind that will let you hear yourself and not voices of other people.
    Limit your exposure to any media at least a few times a week.
    Try to keep a positive attitude towards any news you hear.
    Spend some time in quietude and solitude daily.
  2. Go to your special place. A special place is a place where you feel calm and where you feel connected to your inner self and to your core. It might be your back porch, shower, beach, park, art gallery, coffee shop or any other place. Don’t let anybody disturb you there, just dive into your thoughts and let them flow through you. Listen to what your inner self is telling you at that moment.
  3. Ask yourself questions. Before you can hear anything you often have to ask questions. The most powerful questions are: Why? and How?
    Why am I worried about this?
    How do I feel it about it?
    After all the why’s and how’s you can keep on going with what’s, where’s and when’s.
    Keep asking yourself different questions until you feel that you have found the right answer.
  4. Learn to be patient. An impatient person often acts based on emotions. They don’t even have time to listen to themselves because they are always in a hurry. My advice is to relax and be patient no matter what.
  5. Don’t listen to your emotions. Any decisions that I made based on emotions were real disasters. I lost money, I almost lost a friend, I lost my inner balance and gained a lot of problems.
    When you learn to be mindful and patient you discover the difference between raw emotions and your inner voice. Give yourself some time to reflect on any situation, step aside and ask yourself questions “Do I really need this?’, “Is it my true decision or am I forced into this?”, “How will I feel about it tomorrow (in a year, in 5 years)?”
  6. Imagine yourself on a deserted island. Sometimes it is helpful to imagine yourself in a place where only your opinion matters. There is nobody else to judge you, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do things and there are no expectations or deadlines pressing you. What would you do in that situation? Can you do it now? Why not?

Do you often listen to yourself? Do you usually get the right or the wrong advice? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Keep it balanced!

Smart Thoughts (30)

  1. Tom says:

    I never used to listen to my body until one day I had what I thought was a bad cold. I was feeling achy and run down but I had an triathlon competition that weekend. So I put on a bunch of layers and went to for a run to try and ‘sweat it out’.
    It only got worse. I went to the doctor and was told that it was tonsillitis. Too much vigorous activity and the virus could have spread from my throat to my heart. Which would have been rather serious. Since then I’ve always paid close attention to what my body is saying.
    I’m now beginning to try and listen to what the rest of me is saying so thanks for the help :)

    • Anastasiya says:

      Listening to your body is as important as listening to your inner voice (I am actually planning to write a separate article about how to listen to your body.) I actually had the same condition when I was a teenager (I mean tonsillitis) and it caused quite a lot of trouble. I am glad I am over it now :-)
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story!

  2. Jean Sarauer says:

    One way I’ve learned to listen to myself is to take myself out on “dates.” I got the idea from the Artist’s Way book by Julia Cameron, where she prescribes that blocked writers/artists go on weekly artist’s dates. I don’t do it weekly, but fairly frequently I will pick a place I really want to go (park, movie, etc.) and just spend time with myself enjoying an activity, sitting by the water, etc. It really helps me hear my voice, learn to recognize what I like without other peoples’ influences, and be comfortable in my own skin.

    • Anastasiya says:

      Jean, that’s a great advice. This is a very good way to get to know yourself and spend some time alone (all of us need it for mental sanity :-)) I do this as often as possible too and it always helps me to know what is going on inside of me.

  3. Nezel says:

    Nice post. Last March I’ve tried to follow daily routine that others did and suggested in order to achieve my dreams. However, I was good only in following it for three weeks. It’s not that the lizard brain is at work. It’s only that I could no longer connect with myself because I seemed to lose my spontaneity and my own creativity. Yeah, it’s good to listen to good suggestions and advises. Yet, following them word for word might not be wise because I am different from others. What work with them might not work with me because I am a specie of a different category. Besides, I am not designed to fit with their path. It may seem crazy but I have to do things my own way.

    • Anastasiya says:

      I think that we all need to be creative in everything we do. Even when we need to follow some path or routine we can still find ways to make this path suit our personality and needs.
      You are right that following any program step by step is just not effective. Even when we choose to follow some routine we still can make changes to it and only then this routine will work for us.
      Thanks for sharing your experience, Nezel!

  4. Tisha says:

    Hi Anastasiya,

    Thanks for the reminder to remember my “core belief”; I really needed to hear that today! Also, the taking care of myself thing is always challenging for me as I tend to put that last on the list when I’m overwhelmed with “stuff”. Remembering that you can’t be much help to those you love when you’re depleted is a great way to start “giving back” to yourself on a regular basis.

    • Anastasiya says:

      I think that generally it is harder for women to learn to take care of themselves. Kids that run around, house that needs to be cleaned, supper that needs to be fixed, work and other regular things on our to-do list always seem to have higher priority than our needs. While I don’t believe that forgetting about all those chores is possible or even necessary, I do think that planning some “me” time for a woman is an essential part of life balance. When a mom is happy everybody around her is happy too :-)

  5. Steve says:

    Hi Anastasia, Great article on learning to listen to your inner voice. I’ve pretty much always gone my own way, and I can’t really say it was so good for me all the time, but that’s water under the bridge now. However, about 12 years ago I started thinking back to dreams and aspirations I had as a child, like playing music and doing magic tricks. Ever since that day, I haven’t been bored in all that time. My life might be boring for others possibly, but for me, I’m doing as much of what I want to do as I can. I tried magic for a while, but found I don’t enjoy practicing it. Music was another matter. I’ve enjoyed playing and practising music almost every day for the last 12 years. I’m currently writing my own songs and hope to be able to reach people through my music. I’m reaching for the stars, while keeping my feet on the ground. Thanks for the article and great blog, one of my favorites.

    • Anastasiya says:

      Hi Steve,
      it’s great how you are following your dreams right now. Like you said, listening to yourself does not mean that you won’t make mistakes (after all, we all need to learn lessons in life somehow) but those mistakes will be yours. Figuring out what not to do is as important as knowing what you need to do.
      I hope that your songs will be a great success. And they actually already are because you are doing what you love in life and you seem to be happy in your life journey.

  6. Anastasiya, thanks for yet another very thourough and thought provoking article.

    Firstly congratulations for following your own path and not being another frustrated doctor! The world would have lost out on an inspirational writer:-)

    I have been listening a lot to my body lately which is telling me to take it easy and rest! Right now I am not inspired to write much and I get the sense that I just need to re-energise by spending time in nature on my own.

    As Jean Sarauer has mentioned above, it’s time a for a date with my inner artist.

    Time for me to throw out the book and create some more joy in my life!

    Watch this space…

    • Anastasiya says:

      Arvind, you always have so much energy to share with the world around you! I think that after you take a short break you will feel energized and inspired again. I am looking forward to your future posts because they are always so full of sunshine and optimism.

  7. You have a lovely blog and mission for all of us. I found you on Zen Habits and am so glad I did. I appreciate your advice and look forward to going back and learning more. Thank you for such a tranquil focus in such a busy world. =)

  8. Cheryl Paris says:

    Hiya Anastaysia,

    In order to be able to listen to ourselves we need not be biased. We need to be true to ourselves and keep asking at least at the end of the day few questions for self evaluation. I feel this is important because If I am happy I can make others happy and also influence people around me.

    Cheryl Paris
    The Acorn Coach Blog

  9. Fr. Michael says:


    I think decluttering our minds is really important. I’ve been trying to do that more lately. I’ve been spending less time online trying to find all the latest news, I’ve been spending less time watching TV. I try to spend more time reading, praying, feeding my mind with self-development CDs, etc. All these things help us to know ourselves and hear ourselves.

    Thanks for an insightful post!

    • Anastasiya says:

      I know that sometimes I get overwhelmed with my online activities and then I know: Time to Stop. If my mind is cluttered then I feel out of energy, I feel no inspiration at all and everything around me just looks so complicated. I know that even I need to declutter my mind more often and praying is definitely one of my favorite ways to do that.

  10. Anastayisa –

    This is a great post. I know that it takes everyone time to learn to truly listen to themselves. I had a revelation recently about my emotions and a particular gremlin that I encounter. When they combined, bad things happened. Yet learning to be aware of that and listen to what is going on has helped me to accept what was going on, and move past the challenge. Your 10 tips are great – number 3 on taking care of yourself is top of my priority list at the moment. It has a knock on effect on the rest of life. Thank you!


    • Anastasiya says:

      Admitting our own gremlins is probably the hardest part of getting to know yourself. Everybody has those gremlins (I do, my husband does, my friends do – it’s just part of being a human) but not everybody is aware of them. We can either be in control of them or they can be in control of us.
      Good job for finding yours and taking them under control, Phil!

  11. Ana you are a genius, you’ve inspired a new post for me and when I write it I’ll credit it to you!

  12. lindsay says:

    Great advice! Particularly about limiting media exposure. I feel so much more connected to myself when I take a break from TV, internet, magazines, etc. Then when I do come back, I can approach the new info with a clear head and heart. Thank you!

    • Anastasiya says:

      I think it’s amazing how much more we can see in our usual activities after we take a small break. For me personally, inspiration starts pouring from the pages of the magazines or blogs after a small media break and I sometimes wonder “Why couldn’t I see it before?”

  13. Ramiro says:

    This is sound advice. I like how you suggest that we don’t go to sleep at all if we don’t feel like it. Sometimes I tend to go to bed too fresh, I should probably go and run on the treadmill rather than just lying on the bed wondering.

  14. Anastasiya – As I said in my previous comment – you have a lovely focus. I included your post on Zen Habits in my weekly Cups of Tea that is posted today. I just really thought my readers would appreciate your words. Thanks again for your inspiration. =)

  15. Andi says:

    This is such an incredibly helpful post. I need to keep re-reading it from time to time to remind myself to do these things. Thanks!!!

  16. Anastasiya: Great post and great advice. I couldn’t agree more that sometimes it may be difficult to hear your voice or to know if what you are hearing is really the right voice. I do think that we can develop a sound approach and that as time passes we can become better and better at knowing for certain we are hearing and listening to the right voice.

    I really appreciated your advice to take care of yourself. I think it is such a common challenge for so many of us and we feel a need to give all we can to our family and friends, but we do need to be able to take that time for ourselves. Thanks for sharing all of your insights. I really enjoyed this post.

  17. Mark says:

    Excellent article. We must trust in our self and know our self for this is how we remember our authentic being.

  18. Wow, I LOVEd this post! I love how you make a difference between know yourself and hear yourself. The distinction between inner voice and raw emotions is powerful too. Very eye opening and valuable post for all of us. Thank you!

  19. doreen says:

    HI Anastatia

    A great article indeed, sometimes i just wonder if im going forward or backward, if im really on the right track.Sometimes times in life there are some goal that you set up for your self but time passes by n u hav achieved nothing, Things u dreamt about, thinks you really want in life.But at the end of the day you ask yourself did u put enough effortto achieve whatever you wanted to achieve, Where did i go wrong? why am i not there? You ask youself many questions but still no answer.I do think is time to listern to my innerself.