In recent weeks, I’ve been finding myself frequently asking the question, “What is being listened to?” I’ve been asking this question of myself, and wondering the same as I observe others. Being with this question, I have realized how little we ask the question, and how often we need to!
There have been a few times in which I found myself doing things I didn’t really want to do, and asking, “Why am I doing this?” The answer almost always stems from fear. I will share a significant example which many women face. I preface this by saying that these are strictly my experiences and opinions, I am not a doctor, and I am in no way telling you what you should do.
This example is simply to share a journey of discernment, or lack thereof, and what I learned from it.
Over the holidays, I had a small nodule on my left side turn into a large nodule that clearly was filled with fluid. It became quite uncomfortable, being right at the level of my bra strap, and of course concerned me. Those who know me well know that I choose alternative forms of preventive and curative health care over conventional medicine. In this case, I knew that I needed to determine precisely what I was dealing with, and made a doctor’s appointment. As expected, it was immediately suggested that I have a mammogram. I don’t choose to be exposed to radiation unnecessarily, and have read numerous articles saying that mammograms for women are not necessarily a wise option (please do your own research, rather than taking my word for it). That said, I did not want to have a mammogram and asked for alternatives. The doctor suggested that I have an ultrasound, and if it was inconclusive, then we could look at a mammogram. She wrote the order and I made an appointment with women’s imaging.
Immediately upon being taken into the exam room, the technician said with a serious expression that I needed to do a mammogram. “But you haven’t even done the ultrasound to see what’s there,” I said. She showed me the order form from the doctor, which ordered an ultrasound with a “mammogram if warranted.” The technician said, “It is warranted because you have a lump and the ultrasound could miss things. The radiologist will want to see the mammogram results, and then do the ultrasound to get more specifics in the areas the mammogram shows things. If you don’t do the mammogram first, you may end up with needing more than one ultrasound and having to pay more for that.”
Well, I ended up giving in to the technician and having the mammogram. And, as I had originally suspected, everything was perfectly fine, except for the nodule, which was simply a sebaceous cyst. I left the imaging center with a deep sadness.
I realized I had let myself be “bullied” into a procedure I didn’t want, and what’s worse, it is a procedure that, to me, feels very bodily invasive and violating.
I felt sad that I had allowed my body to be violated in this way, and especially disappointed that I had not simply listened to my intuition and stuck to my plan.
I had betrayed myself.
So, why did I do something I didn’t want to do? What was at the root of that decision? I could have convinced myself that I did the right thing and rationalized not listening to my higher knowing. That would have been the easier, more comfortable thing to do. Instead, I chose to do some discovery work and really understand this self betrayal, as I knew that only in doing so, would I be more discerning in the future.
I spent many days in contemplation over what had happened, focused on discovering and healing. In the process, I considered the importance of discernment, and what I am listening to. I had listened to my own heart and intuition up to the point at which I stepped into the exam room at the imaging center. Then, faced with the imprint of the idea that “they know more” and the concern that “there could be something else going on” and “this might be more than you can afford to pay for,” I lost all connection to my heart and made a decision out of fear.
There was a lot of forgiveness I needed to do, first and foremost forgiving myself for not staying connected to my heart.
But the root of this situation was discernment. I knew that this would be the most valuable lesson at the core of this experience.
In this case, fear got the best of me, and even while it was unfortunate, it gave me the opportunity to learn and expand my awareness. By not pushing the experience under the rug or rationalizing that it was ok to ignore my inner knowing, I learned so much about my own capacity to stay in my truth and trust myself. I realized that when faced with a decision, a critical question to ask, and to be brutally honest in answering is,
“What am I listening to?”
It should also be noted that sometimes we find ourselves doing something we don’t want to do, but it is not due to poor discernment or losing connection to the heart. Sometimes when asking the question of “why am I doing this,” there is the answer of, “because I want to be of service,” in which case, while I may not have wanted to do the “what I’m doing,” I did want to do the “reason for doing it.” This is another valuable reason to be constantly asking ourselves the question of “What am I listening to?” In this case, we can find renewed motivation to move forward and tap even more deeply into the generous heart that wanted to reach out to another for worthy, ennobling ends.
These examples around connecting with the question of “What am I listening to?” help us to remember that we don’t always know what we think we know. Things aren’t always as they seem. If we are doing something out of fear, we are forcing an answer or solution, rather than letting things come to us organically. It is important to consider the various perspectives, consequences, and emotions that come with certain decisions, and then to allow space for the heart to respond without overthinking things or ignoring things.
A great way to know what you are listening to is to also ask, “Does this empower me from the heart?”
If I had asked that question when listening to the technician, I would have felt that doing what she suggested was completely disempowering to me at the level of the heart. Sure, I might have felt empowered at the level of the head, thinking I was making her happy, doing what I’m “supposed” to do, or rationalizing the decision, but at what cost? This is why it is critical to be honest with yourself. Being honest with yourself is never the easier path. Discovery is often uncomfortable and something most of us would rather avoid. Yet, if we wish to truly expand our awareness, and awaken our inner power, it is a task that cannot be ignored. Perhaps taking time to come to center and respond to the situation from that place of heartfelt truth can also support you in knowing whether you are listening to your head or your heart.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you make difficult decisions? I hope these questions for contemplation help you to do so more confidently in the future!