Have You Heard Yourself Lately?
Part One Well, have you heard yourself lately? Typically, most people would assume a negative suggestion to this question. It would usually be directed at your tone and/or delivery. It is amazing how so many of our initial reactions are in the negative realm. Consider a simple exercise of your personal outlook in general. Is your ﬁ rst impulse toward our opening question positive or negative? An old saying would have it categorized as, “the glass is half-full or half-empty”. The physical nature of the contents in the glass is the same in either case. What can be discovered is our own “automatically derived” starting place of our day-to-day experiences. So now be honest with yourself. What was your ﬁ rst reaction to our question? With sincerity, you can learn a lot about yourself by listening to yourself. Please do not pass this off as unimportant. If you sincerely examine your very ﬁ rst (automatic) position toward our question: “have you heard yourself lately?”, you can establish a tremen
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dous amount of awareness about how you typically engage any subject in the beginning. This is not a “trick” exercise. I am not trying to trap you in a judgment of “right” or “wrong”. Most people are unaware (consciously) of their ﬁ rst reactions to something new. There are nearly always patterns you have developed that can provide you with a huge knowledge of your own attitudes if you will sincerely open yourself up to this awareness. To continue on this path for a little longer, can you be open enough with yourself to become more aware of your “automatic” initial reactions? Are you a “glass is half-full” or a “glass is half-empty” kind of person in the majority of your reactions? There is another old saying, “ﬁ rst impressions are lasting impressions”. This works in several ways. The assumed direction will be a ﬁ rst impression made on others. This is very important! Just ask any employer and they will tell you the initial few minutes of the ﬁ rst interview have a critical impact on their future decision to hire someone. Now let me suggest something I’ll bet you have not heard yet. What about your ﬁ rst impression of you? No, this is not a misprint. In fact, your own impressions of yourself are extremely important in many ways. How you conduct yourself in your communications and your approach toward others has a major impact on both them and you. At this point I would like to share a personal story that is a great example of this topic. I know a man named Steve. I have known him for nearly 40 years. Steve is very outspoken. He can be very harsh with his words at times. Both the content and the tone of his verbal communications are very often abrupt, to say the least. Because of the length of time I have known him, I can easily say he is a man of character. Steve is, without doubt, a good person. However, if you were to meet
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him for the ﬁ rst time and be exposed to a typical conversation of any considerable length, you would be convinced he is a mean and very unhappy individual. I believe if Steve were to sincerely listen to himself out loud, he would not like what he would hear. To a “passerby” he appears to have a good life. Good health, good wife, good job etc. But Steve has impressed upon himself such negative, for so long, he has become an “automatic” glass is half-empty. In short, to get to know Steve is to believe he hates everything. This may sound extreme. In fact, it is, but it is not exaggerated. I used this to show an obvious example of your own impact on yourself. Do you know someone similar? Are you a little like that yourself? Try to become more aware of yourself. Listen to yourself out loud. In book one, I focused mostly on listening quietly to your inner voice. This book encompasses some of the same “quiet awareness” along with listening to what actually comes out of you out loud. Psychologists will tell you that your “self-talk” has a huge impact on your own opinion of yourself. I suggest that your “talk” in general, whether directed toward others or not, has much to do with your disposition and general attitude. So now we have spent a moderate amount of focus on the negative slant of out loud communication. Let’s shift gears and go in the opposite direction. To do so would be to suggest that our out loud communications are always pleasant and with attractive tone. This may seem nearly impossible given the social condition of our current experiences collectively. While relatively nothing is impossible, it is highly unlikely that all of us, all the time, will exercise a calm, pleasant communication level. We can however, become more aware of our out loud talk and consciously move toward our own improved level. When each person in a group is speaking in a decisive manner
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without banging their ﬁ st on the table, mutual respect is created. It is very possible to say what you mean and mean what you say in a polite, respectful manner. In such a scenario, not only are the others’ impression of you favorable, but your own impression of you is lifted and will encompass a certain level of pride. There is a deﬁ nite key to all human exchange. Sincerity. Only when words ﬂ ow with sincerity are they positively effective on others and felt by you. Foolish is the person who tries to fake sincerity. Such an individual may temporarily receive favorable response from other people on the surface, but the internal truth is always known within this individual. So listen to yourself. Listen to your words. Listen to your motives. Listen to your delivery. Most important, listen to your feelings. Do you feel good when you talk? Are you proud of yourself for the message(s) you leave with that other person in your conversations? Do you believe they are anxious to talk to you again? Our display of ourselves in our own environment and the people in it creates an impression that others will judge us on and more importantly, that we judge ourselves on. As each one of us increases our personal awareness and then place a personal commitment to improve our “out loud” exposure, we will feel much better about ourselves and with others with whom we come in contact. I have heard many people say, “I do not care what other people think of me.” I have made this same statement many times in my past. Now I truly believe this is a completely bogus statement. Likewise, we have all heard, and many of us said, “It is not good to judge others.” Although in general terms this is true, it is also not a realistic statement. As human beings, we all judge. It is as simple as that. I suggest we all welcome a certain level of judgment.
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Instead of attempting a denial of the human makeup, which contains judgment, let’s accept it. Here’s why. To deny human nature is full of emptiness. There is nothing real within the concept of denial. It is a defensive display that has no direction. The only way to change and improve any experience is to accept it. In order to change something, it must ﬁ rst be in your possession. The only means to possess something is to accept it as real. So, in this order; we ﬁ rst become aware of…, then we acknowledge or except it as real, then we possess or own it personally, and ﬁ nally now we can make changes and improvements. I believe, as with many things, we take some of our “judgments” to an extreme that promotes an inaccurate, and many times, unfair conclusion. The problem is not that as humans we judge, the problem is we do not know where to draw our proverbial line. I will take this a little further. I suggest, even if we really tried, as humans, we can’t help but cast judgments. In many cases, another word for judgment is taste. We judge music, food, movies, clothing styles etc. Our life experiences run on judgments. When we judge an experience as unpleasant or not beneﬁ cial, we call it “learning the hard way”. This “learning” will help us make different choices in our future. In my opinion, the concept of judgment has been given a bad rap. It has become somewhat “politically incorrect” to judge anything. As with many of our inherent human activities, we have collectively attempted to throw out one of our core human processes. This cannot and will not ever work long term. To judge is natural. The key is to apply “The Golden Rule”. For those of you who read my ﬁ rst book, Listen Without Your Ears, you understand the enormous value I place on this foundational life principle. In case there are those of you who do not fully understand
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my deﬁ nition of “The Golden Rule”, I will take a moment here to explain. “Treat others as you want to be treated.” This principle of human interaction does not belong to any religion or nationality. It is completely unbiased. Regardless of race, color, gender or any other speciﬁ c, “The Golden Rule” applies to all people. So when any of us are judging anything about another, a simple question applies; would we be happy with them judging us in the same manner? The “proverbial line” I spoke of earlier can be found within the concept of “The Golden rule”. So go ahead, make your judgment. You decide if you approve of that food, that music, those clothes, the choices are yours. Understand though, that other people can and will do the same. As you increase your own awareness of your “out loud” displays, you will quickly judge yourself and then you will decide what you wish to continue and what you wish to change.
Once again we explore the same question, only this time in an entirely different format. Have you heard yourself lately? For that matter, have you ever really listened to yourself? Well if you haven’t, you should. Guess what? You have all the answers you’re looking for and then some. That’s right, you do! No, I am not playing games, I am serious. Once again, in referencing my ﬁ rst book, we talked about listening to yourself. In that format we focused on a “quiet” form of listening - through your feelings. You have a lot to say to you! You are continuously communicating with yourself. I’ll bet if you stop and really think about it you will come up with many ways. We all have placed a certain amount of “static” in the communication frequency
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between our “higher self” and our conscious (physical) self. We have conditioned ourselves to look for, and acknowledge the surface communications available to our ﬁ ve external senses. Because our “sixth sense” is subtle, and these “higher” communications are delivered via feelings, we must tell ourselves to pay attention. It is not as obvious and automatic as our external communications. Many of you will take a little longer to develop your awareness of your “higher self” than will others. Regardless of your starting point, I promise you, if you approach your desire to listen to your feelings with sincerity, you will come to realize this attachment. Let’s start with the obvious. Do you ever actually talk out loud to yourself? I know I do. How about singing? Me too, although I wouldn’t want to brag about my tone quality. We even “talk” to ourselves through body language and posture. The point is our “spiritual self” is in constant contact with our physical self. The trick is do we listen? Now you might be thinking, “When I sing, I’m just repeating the words in the song”. How is that a form of personal communication? Consider this, do you sing out loud to every song? If you’re like me, you only physically involve yourself with the songs you are drawn to. You probably sing out loud and on occasion even dance to the ones you really like. Music that causes happy emotions to ﬂ ow is an absolute communication! We are designed to experience. When we experience happy things, we want to do it again. Our “spiritual self” is involved with the attraction and the connection to our physical experiences that bring those emotions of happiness. So, what about those experiences that seem unhappy? Those times and things that you do not wish to repeat? As a physical human being with a mind and a brain, (they are different), we have the power of choice. Remember, your brain is
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your personal computer. It is simply your tool to use as memory storage, calculations, analyze incoming signals from your 5 external senses and to control your physical functions. Your mind is the place in which you combine all the functions of your brain along with your feelings of emotion. Your mind is like your own personal conference room. Many of your judgments are produced within your minds collaboration of thought and feeling. Whether you want to believe it or not, we have “free will”. We are not just puppets on a string that God is playing with. I believe that most people, who choose to strictly follow a structured guideline laid before them by another person or group, are doing so out of fear. Mostly, fear of responsibility. Fear of being “alone” in their decisions. We all make choices and decisions that we can look back on and place a personal judgment of disapproval or regret. We have the capability of memory but do not have a concise, clear ability to “see” the future. We will talk much more on the subject of memory and experiences in a coming chapter, but for now let’s stay focused on our self-communications. To ﬁ nish up on the music analogy, consider this: as a physical being, we have the choice to listen to any type of music. When we hear the types that we really connect with, the songs that cause us to sing along, we are experiencing happy emotions. Emotions are the communication that is a link to our “higher” self. Now let’s look at another very common form of self-talk, literally. Do you actually talk out loud to yourself when you are focused on a physical task? I have done this for many years. Now think about this. During those times you do the most talking, are those tasks the ones that you really enjoy? Do these projects bring you the challenges that promote accomplishment to be felt? In other words, you may refer to these tasks as “work”, but do you actually enjoy working
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on those things that promote your “talking out loud” as you maneuver through the details of the task? If you’re like me, the answer is yes. I ﬁ nd that I am usually quiet during the mundane or somewhat unpleasant parts of a project. However, give me a task that I enjoy, and I will often “talk my way through it”. Here’s a simple example that many of you will relate to. Tomorrow you are leaving on a vacation that you have been really looking forward to. Today you are packing. How do you feel as you are packing? Does the task of packing seem much like work? Are you talking out loud, reminding yourself of what to bring? Even though you’re physically involved in gathering, arranging and consolidating, are you having fun? Most of you will agree this is an emotional experience of great happiness. Your spiritual (higher) self is “in sync” with your physical self. Your emotional self is always seeking joy, and in this scenario your physical self is in total cooperation. There is a very important key factor that I must explain here. True experiences of happiness are only found when both your “higher self” and your physical self are in concert. There are many forms of physical attempts at happy experiences that are fraudulent illusions. Drugs, alcohol, certain activities, where you live, what you drive, the clothes you wear etc., can be shallow attempts by your physical self only, to achieve happiness. There are a lot of people who live in great homes, drive beautiful cars and make substantial incomes, yet are unhappy. I can tell you without doubt they are not “listening”. Your spiritual self is always showing you what will truly cause you happiness. Our physical body, and all it encompasses, is our vehicle for our experiencing. Our “higher” self is our roadmap. We each choose when and if we use our map. We each choose when and if we “listen”. As simple as this may seem, it is practiced very little by
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most people. Your spiritual self will not force anything on your physical self. The “higher you” is always there, always showing ways of happiness, but that is it. Our physical being is in charge. This is where the experiences actually take place, so we, as physical beings, have the choice to act or not. At the surface level is where we experience and where we choose. Body language is another largely used form of communication. Are you happy with your physical presence? Do you care for your body? The ofﬁ ces of plastic surgeons are full of people seeking a synthetic form of happiness. When these professionals are used to repair and/or modify individuals due to physical trauma or birth defect etc., they’re providing a wonderful service. Unfortunately, much of their efforts go to individuals who are looking for a shallow form of contentment. Many times individuals with adequate monetary substance try to pursue the elusive way of achieving happiness by purchasing it. I referred to this as “elusive” and not “easy” intentionally. In reality, the easiest thing for any of us to do is to “listen” to ourselves and “go with the ﬂ ow” of our natural intuitions. It takes effort to ignore or bypass our built in natural ability to be in concert with our “higher self”. By being elusive, we remove a lot of the personal responsibilities of choosing for ourselves and instead “go with the ﬂ ow” of societal driven choices. I encourage all of you to improve your opinions of your abilities to trust yourself. Listen to yourself. During those times when you feel “light” and happy, you are in tune with your “higher” spiritual self. In my past I have had opportunities to speak in front of community groups. On several occasions I was ﬁ lmed and recorded. I remember watching those recordings back and being amazed! I looked and sounded much different than I had assumed I would. Some things I was impressed with, while other things I wanted to change and improve upon. To say the least,
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it was very enlightening. These experiences brought to my attention a conscious awareness of my physical presentation to others and to myself.
Balance With Yourself & Others
Please, do not take all of this to an extreme. Extremes, in general, are the beginning of future problems. Do not become obsessed with how you look and/or sound. Follow your heart. Be you. If you are truly happy in conjunction with your “higher self” (the only path to true happiness), your “out loud” presentation will be clear and sincere. So “listen out loud” to yourself – you know what you’re looking for. Be willing to admit to yourself any areas in which you desire a personal change. When you are in a face-to-face conversation with someone you rarely or have never spoken to before, simultaneously notice their physical response to you. Providing the topic of conversation is pleasant, notice their expressions and body language as you are speaking. Are they relaxed and attentive? Do they appear interested in what you are saying? Do you feel a genuine connection of interest between you? When you are in someone’s immediate space, their expressions, body language, and overall reaction to you will give you a lot of information about your outward presentation. By all means, do not practice this exercise once or twice and make severe changes to how you conduct yourself based on just a couple reactions. Instead make this type of awareness a routine in your personal meetings with others. With sincere efforts, you will ﬁ nd patterns in how you are received.
Excerpted from "Listen Out Loud: Broaden Your Horizon" by Joe Gwerder. Copyright © 0 by Joe Gwerder. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.