Listen to Yourself

Greetings, and welcome to our continuing mindfulness journey.  Again, Fishing Without Bait, which is a website – a podcast dedicated to living life without expectations, without added anxiety and worry in this hectic, strenuous world of ours.  And, today, as always, I’m joined by my friend, my co-producer, and co-host, Mike Sorg, owner and operator of Sorgatron Media.  And, we’ve been, in our past podcasts, Mike, we’ve been exploring some of the meanings of mindfulness, by paying attention on purpose, being the observer behind the thinker, having choice and choices in our lives, the concept of time, finding the uniqueness in each moment, time as currency.  And, if you’re interested in any of these topics you can certainly listen to any of our previous podcasts, which are available on our website FishingWithoutBait.com.

Mike:    They’re like chapters in a book, almost.

Jim:    Sure.  This is an evolving, organic type of experience.  And, if we do seem repetitive at times, it’s on purpose as we are developing.

Mike:    That’s how you learn, you know.  That’s why they say the phone number five (5) times at the end of a car commercial.  Just, we have a more mindful “phone number” for you to remember.

Jim:    Absolutely.  And, what we’re trying to do is help people.  Remember, most of us, Mike, have a lifetime if repeated patterns of behaviors and thoughts and actions.  We’ve developed that eight (8) lane superhighway in our head that is well traveled and well maintained.  And, it’s comfortable even though sometimes it may not lead us in the most productive or beneficial destination for us.  However, so what we’re doing now, as we’ve discussed in the past, is helping people traverse a path through an overgrown thicket or forest, and it’s going to take some time and repeated pathways through to make that a comfortable type of path, and, hopefully, a more productive and beneficial destination for people – which will lead to a path of, hopefully, health and wellness and happiness.  I’m truly happy to be able to help individuals live a life worth living, to live a life out loud.  And, that doesn’t mean we’re going to walk down the streets screaming.  That means that we’re just going to be living life out loud and experiencing life in perhaps a bit more intense way.  So, today what we’re going to be discussing a bit is perhaps a bit of conversation.  And, as we know, Mike, eighty (80%) percent of conversation is listening.  And, we’re going to be exploring the art of conversation further in another episode.  However, when someone is talking to you, Mike, and they’re looking at their cellphone – tell me, you’ve talked to many people, talk to us sometimes about when you feel that you’re not being heard.

Mike:    I know exactly that.  And, you know, I’m in a circle of very technologically deep-rooted people that have a lot going on on their cellphones and have a lot going on there.  And, even as you know, I try to be conscious that I’m not doing this to other people, I have a watch that does this too.  And, I get notifications on there, and I’m distracted by that all the time, but I still want to check in on things.

Jim:    Wow.  How important are you?

Mike:    That’s a whole other conversation, a whole other episode we could do.  But, certainly.  I’ve definitely seen that where you’re just like, “What are you doing over there?”  I have several friends, that we get together and converse online, but they’re also playing a video game while they’re on the line with us.  And, I’m just like, “How are you dividing this?  And, are you really absorbing it?”  And, as we go back and have a conversation later, trying to enact the things we talked about, I realize they weren’t very much at all.

Jim:    And, again, you keep bringing up topics for future conversations, which is multi-tasking and doing one thing mindfully at a time.  So, when we talk about the art of listening, one thing that we often talk about, or the art of relationships, the art of communication, we’re always talking about involving other people in that, are we not?

Mike:    Right.  They call it “social” media for a reason.

Jim:    Yes.  However, can anyone communicate?  Can anyone listen?  Can anyone have a relationship with another human being before they have a relationship with themselves?  So, quite often, Mike, we don’t listen to ourselves.  Quite often, the best of intention parents – you can read whatever you want to, listen to whoever you want to.  Every single person, every single parent, people’s circumstances, places, and events, leave a footprint on our lives.  And, quite often what happens, Mike, is perhaps you hear some invalidating comments from teachers, from parents, from friends.  And, at times, what we begin to develop is an inner critic.  Sometimes this voice comes from others, but soon we begin to develop our own inner critic in our lives.  We begin to develop that inner critic, which is in essence, writing a review of our lives.  And, sometimes it’s a hyper critical one.  

Mike:    You’ve made the comments in previous episodes about looking at your life as a movie and sort of reviewing it.  And, kind of that inner critic becomes the worst movie critic ever in the long run.

Jim:    Sure.  And, sometimes this inner critic can be the most self-defeating voice you’ve ever heard.  Have you ever thought about things that you could do, Mike, and then this inner critic takes over.

Mike:    That really says, “Can you really do that?  Can you really pull that off?”  Is this what we’re talking about?

Jim:    Yes.

Mike:    Oh, we’re familiar with that.

Jim:    And, sometimes, when this inner critic begins, all they can think of is the things they cannot do rather than the things they can do.  Sometimes what we need to ask ourselves is, “Whose voice is that?  And, where did that voice come from?”  And, sometimes that voice outshouts all the other thoughts in our head.  So, quite often I know that some other places, some other perhaps content might teach you how to block out some thoughts, or how to push them away.  However, generally the thought is that what we resist persists.  So, if you’re on a playground, Mike, and generally what we’re taught is that when somebody pushes you as an individualistic society, what are we taught to do?

Mike:    Push them right back.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, when these thoughts come in, we tend to push them.  We tend to push them away, make believe that they’re not there.  So, what happens is they push back.  And, pretty soon, then these thoughts say, “Hey.  Game on.”  And, then they end up bringing a whole lot of their friends.

Mike:    It’s kind of a first blood situation, isn’t it?

Jim:    Absolutely.  And, you’re having a pitch battle all day long, which eludes to our previous podcast on all these thoughts and spending so much time and energy on them that it’s absolutely exhausting.  So, take the last time that you had a booboo?  Okay, let’s say a hurt knee or an elbow.  And, people tell you, “Don’t think about it.”  What’s the only thing you can think about?

Mike:    The injury.  The knee that’s aching because you just fell on it.

Jim:    Let’s just imagine then, in our beautiful studios, that I’m saying to you, “Mike, there’s a pink elephant in the room.  However, I don’t want you to think about it.”  What’s the only thing you can think about?

Mike:    There’s a pink elephant in the room, and he’s right over there looking at me.  

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, you’re having all these intrusive thoughts.  However, don’t think about them.  Quite often during your life, how has somebody those thoughts of yours as nonsense, or you’re not thinking that way.  Or they say, “Everything’s going to be alright.  Just don’t think about it.”  You’re having bad thoughts.  Well, don’t think about them.  So, what we’re trying to do here is when developing these relationships with yourself, what we’re going to do in this and following podcasts is try to help people deal with talking to those thoughts, to deal with some positive self talk.  I encourage, and I’m going to encourage, people out there to begin to address that inner critic, to begin to address these thoughts and these voices in your head.  I want you to speak to them.  I want you to have some positive self-talk to yourself.  Most people, Mike, when they say, “Oh my gosh.  I spend all day talking to myself.”  Sometimes I think, “I know a good psychiatrist.  You’d better go see them.”  So, our goal here is to help you be your own psychiatrist, to help you to be your own therapist to deal with the incongruities, the stuff in life that is going to keep on happening.  And, again, speaking from the twelve (12) step world – to deal with life on life’s terms.  So, one of the first things, Mike, is what we want to do is, let’s say a house, okay.  We look at what’s on the outside and what’s on the inside.  That’s the fancy stuff we put out there, isn’t it?  Okay.  Any builder or any contractor will tell you that the most important part of a structure is the foundation.  Okay.  And, that’s something we overlook.  Sometimes we put the window dressing out on ourselves to present an image to the outside world, and even an image to ourselves where perhaps we have a crumbling foundation where this inner critic has been talking to us so long that it begins to erode that foundation.  So what you do is take a mindful approach.  Take a time out and go back and examine, massage, and repair that foundation.  Maintenance is so important.  So, the first thing that we try to do is, we look at a tree – a magnificent oak tree, huge and towering up into the sky.  However, what’s underneath that oak tree, Mike?  What’s into the ground under it?

Mike:    The roots.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, if those roots were shallow, if those roots were only a foot deep for a big, magnificent tree, if even a stronger wind would come, what would happen?

Mike:    It would fall right over.

Jim:    It would fall right over.  And, sometimes what happens is when we put all these trappings and all these materialistic things out into our life where we’re trying to gain acceptance to ourselves from how others view us, when we take our own self worth from what others see or others value in us, then we’re not getting those roots.  It’s a nice tree, is it not?  But, given some windfalls in life, some disturbances in the water, we fall over.  So, the idea is, let’s go back into that foundation.  Let’s develop some deeper roots.  Let’s be mindful of those roots and develop some deeper ones.  So how do we do that?  First of all, we set an intention.  Quite often, some people make New Year’s resolutions.

Mike:    And, they usually don’t work out very well, do they?

Jim:    Well, the New Year’s resolutions we generally make are that, “I’m going to learn Chinese,” or “That I’m going to save $500,000,000.00.”  

Mike:    Have you ever made a Chinese resolution?  Is this a confession?

Jim:    Could you tell me?  Could you share that please?

Mike:    No.  No, I meant you.

Jim:    No, I have not.  But, that’s an interesting thought for another podcast.  So, setting the intention to love and care for yourself, okay?  Sometimes we’re “give, give, give” and we don’t tend our own garden – love and kindness.  And, again, as we repeat things, when we talk about being on an airplane when the flight attendant comes out and gives mass instructions for the oxygen masks, they tell you to put it on who first?

Mike:    The children?

Jim:    No.  Yourself.

Mike:    Oh, yourself.  That’s right.

Jim:    Absolutely.

Mike:    I’m sorry.  I’ve only been on a plane a couple times.

Jim:    Yourself.  They tell you to put it on yourself.  And, the reason for that is, if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of anybody else.  So, the intention is to water our own roots.  Remember, we perhaps maybe have a garden that’s been untended for quite some time that may be overgrown with some weeds.  And, it’s not selfishness and self-centeredness to go back and tend your own garden.  Okay.  As, tending your own garden – and we’re all in recovery from something.  

Mike:    We’re all in recovery from our lives.  I mean, everybody’s had an experience, they’ve had a different experience, and they’ve reacted to different experiences.  And, everybody has something.  I don’t think there’s anybody out there who doesn’t have anything wrong with them.  You’re like, “Taylor Swift is perfect, and nothing can be going wrong with her.”  And, it’s simply not true.  Or you think, “Oh, these people that live in suburbia, they have the perfect lives.”  And, that’s absolutely not true, you know.

Jim:    And, again, what are we looking at there?  We’re looking at the window dressing.  We’re looking at the beautiful building.

Mike:    The beautiful building.  Or the beautiful pictures.

Jim:    The manicured lawns.  And, this is eluding to their lives.  When we look at, say a Taylor Swift, who I’m not that familiar with.  I know that she’s a lovely young lady, so that’s what we see – a beautiful, lovely young lady with a whole lot of talent.

Mike:    And there’s a lot of work to make her lovelier.  And we’re the people that are working on that.

Jim:    We have no idea what’s going on the garden of her life.  So, remember that we can help others when the time is right.  So, what we’re trying to do is open a door to a better understanding of ourselves which can truly lead to yourself as a better human being.  So, again addressing that inner critic, the next thing we do is understand that we’re not perfect.  Understanding that we are not perfect, and we are fallible, and we can make mistakes.  And, as laughter is the language of any recovery, and I insist on having fun in life, one of the things that I’ve heard is that I’ve learned so much from my mistakes I plan to make many more.  I hope no one out there takes that particular advice.  So, understand that most people have high expectations.  They’ve developed some high expectations of themselves.  And, our society puts that on people.  By first grade, we want kids to know what they want to be when they grow up.

Mike:    Right, we want that.  Everybody wants to grow up and have their two-point-five (2.5) kids and have the nice house with the lawn and a dog.  And, when that doesn’t work out for whatever reason in life, they think they’ve failed.  And, if nothing else, that’s something that they have to deal with and reprocess that.

Jim:    So, what we have, Mike, is basically we have two (2) types of guilt that we deal with: a healthy guilt, where you screwed up.  You’ve offended somebody.  You’ve done something wrong, and you go to them and make with a sincere and willing heart to make things right – to make amends.  Then there’s unhealthy guilt, which many of us have.  And, unhealthy guilt is when we try to live up to the unreasonable expectations of either ourselves or others.  And, this can be a corroding type of illness, a corroding type of disease that can only grow and ruminate and mold inside you.  So, understanding that we’re perfect, and understanding that it’s the smallest type of steps make a difference.  Quite often we look to, say, “I want to lose a hundred (100) pounds.”  When, taking a different perspective of that is six (6) ounces is a wonderful start.  We’re going to do things in increments.  Quite often, we’re impulsive people.  We want to plant a cherry seed in the morning and have cherry pie in the afternoon.  

Mike:    This is true.  And, I think a lot of times, you know, I look at that stuff like that with creative projects, and say “This isn’t working up to three (3) months.”  You know, or a client saying, “We’re not getting people to react to this thing.”  And, it’s like, “You’ve got to give it time.”  I mean, how many things have we worked with, in processes and projects that we’re seeing four (4) years later, and it’s like, “I’m really glad we started that four (4) years ago.”  

Jim:    Sure.  Absolutely.  So, this mindful experience, this journey that we’ve begun, you and I – and with our listeners, our friends out there, it’s a process, not an event.  Getting a parking ticket is an event.  This is a process.  We continue to evolve.  It’s a learning experience.  So, what we ask is to step back from this self-criticism.  Which, we continue this theme of becoming the observer behind the thinker.  When we’re able to identify again and label thoughts, feelings, and emotions we have and begin to understand when we’re self-criticizing.  Begin to label those thoughts and understand them for exactly what they are.  And, as we do practice mindfulness, Mike, we become more and more aware of our thoughts.  And, then we may begin to understand how sharp and critical that inner voice can be.  When we stand back and become the observer behind that voice, and realize that it’s not us, and it’s not beneficial, and it’s not helping us, then we can be able to step back and begin to realize that we’re not our thoughts.  So, what we’re going to end up with today, Mike, is to ask ourselves to be kind to ourselves.  Be kind to yourself.  How often are you kind to yourself?

Mike:    I’m my worst critic.  What are you talking about?  I work for myself, and I often say, “My boss sucks.”

Jim:    Where’s the complaint box at?

Mike:    I know.  I know.

Jim:    The complaint box is in your head.  That’s where it is.  It’s between your ears.

Mike:    It’s overflowing.  

Jim:    So, your for homework for today, and your assignment – what I’m going to ask you, and I’m going to ask each individual out there is to do something nice and kind for yourself today.  Do something nice and kind for yourself – one (1) small, little, doable thing.  One small, doable thing for yourself to begin to nurture yourself.  Begin to nurture that inner self.  Begin to know that there is a voice inside you besides that inner critic.  So, until we meet again – which I hope will be soon, I would like to review what we’ve done today.  I’d like to review that we’ve talked about beginning the art of conversation – beginning it.  And, that eighty (80%) to ninety (90%) percent of it is listening.  And, listening is truly being in that moment, being with that person, being with the uniqueness of that moment because these words will never be spoken by that person again.  This is that moment in time where it is happening.  And, in that unique moment beginning to listen, not only to other people, but first of all beginning to listen to yourself.  Be able to understand and label and identify those thoughts and those voices and when that inner critic is available.  And, the way to deal with that inner critic is to begin to start a relationship with what we call your authentic self.  Our hope is that we begin to find our authentic selves, and one of the best ways to do that is to start to treat yourself with some love and kindness.  So, until next time, again, this is Fishing Without Bait.  I’m your host, Jim Ellermeyer, joined by our producer and my co-host, Mike Sorg, producer of Sorgatron Media.  And, Mike’s going to let you know how you can reach our podcast with any comments, questions, and/or criticisms.  All are welcome.  

Please check out our website at FishingWithoutBait.com where you can listen to the show, comment on our discussions and find out where you can subscribe to our podcast.  Fishing Without Bait is a production of Namaste Holistic Counseling, P.C.