Sometimes, when life gets messy and confusing, it’s easy to lose track of your own feelings and desires. In those times it’s important to reconnect with ourselves and realign with our hearts. Some people call it connecting with your inner child, some people call it listening to your heart, some people say it’s letting your soul speak. Whatever you want to call it, a crucial part of living a full and happy life is stopping to make sure you’re open to hearing what your innermost self is trying to say.
Here are 8 ways to connect with your deeper self if you’ve had a hard time listening to your heart.
1. Take A New Approach To Journaling.
Journaling with your left or non dominant hand allows your mind to step out of your usual thought process and can help make connections with your deeper thoughts and needs. When I need to hear from my innermost self, I ask myself a question and then let my non dominant hand reconnect me to my desires. Spend as much time as you need and pay attention to what comes up.
2. Let Your Feelings Out Visually.
A creative way to listen closer to your heart is to ask yourself a question and then sit down and draw. Try not to think consciously about what you’re creating; let it be scribbles, let it be messy, let it be authentically your own. Take time to walk away and then come back and look at your drawing with fresh eyes. You will know what you were trying to say. Even if you can’t extract an exact message from your subconscious creation, it can help you see what you were feeling that will point you in the right direction.
3. Access Movement.
Listen to a song you love, turn the lights down low and move. Don’t make a particular effort to stretch or dance or anything else. Let your body move and sway however it wants, and don’t judge yourself— there are no mirrors in this exercise. Give yourself permission to be free. You may just sit there and move your neck to the music. That’s okay, as long as you allow that music into your heart, connecting to the notes, the melody, the lyrics. Take a deep breath and move. You may run in place until you are exhausted. You may just shake your body and release any tension, you may sway, you may begin a slow dance with an imaginary or real partner. You may just move one finger, or maybe just the corner of your mouth with turn upward, or a tear may dance down your cheek. Whatever happens, allow it and accept it and love it as the artistic and authentic expression it is.
4. Try Some Meditation.
Ohm…. If listening to your heart is difficult, another thing to try is turning on a meditation track, a playlist with ohms, or just quiet meditative music. Go into the stillness. Try to visualize your heart in the middle of your chest. See it beating, thank it for giving you life every day. Thank it for pumping blood and life energy throughout your body. Thank it for never stopping. Really try to see it, and connect to what keeps you alive every day. Then, after you feel it and have expressed gratitude, just listen. Breathe easily and listen. There may be nothing it wants to say, but even by giving your heart this kind of attention, you will be listening and gaining an understanding even if your cognitive mind doesn’t grasp it. You will feel more connected if you do this. Take your time. It’s interesting to look into your own self this way, and it’s good to get to know yourself truly from the inside out.
5. Look To Your Memories
Look through a photo album, a stack of your old polaroids, or your phone’s camera roll until one of your photos calls to you. Spend some time with it, looking at every detail, gleaning every feeling from it, and then pick up a pen and some paper to write it all out. Think about what drew you to it— is it connected to a cherished memory? A favorite place or person? What about it elicits emotions? By spending time with a memory that called out to your heart and delving deeper into the feelings there you are honoring your deeper self.
6. Have A Meaningful Conversation With A Friend.
A good way to listen to your heart is to talk to a close friend about what is going on in your life, or a problem you’re having. Sometimes opening up to someone you trust can bring new clarity to a situation. They may bring up something that you hadn’t even thought about, or lead you down a path that broadens your perspective. They may help to clear the extraneous details or worries that are bogging you down and keeping you from truly listening to yourself. Often your friends know you better than you think they do, so turning to them might be exactly what you need to see something more fully.
7. Listen To Your Instincts.
If you have an immediate gut reaction to something, positive or negative, stop for a moment and listen. Ask yourself why you’re having these feelings and what led to them. Maybe write them down, or just take a few moments to hear what your intuition is trying to tell you. Our instincts are there for a reason and it’s important to acknowledge them. Recognizing your own thought process and what got you there can be a great tool in understanding yourself. Sometimes we need to step outside of ourselves for a moment, otherwise it can be so easy in the busy lives we lead to cruise on autopilot.
8. Go For A Walk.
There are many studies on how walking can improve brain function. So many leaders and thinkers have described the feeling of struggling with a problem for hours, only to discover the solution after taking a walk. If you feel stuck or need a change of perspective, going outside and getting yourself in motion can help your subconscious speak up and offer clarity. Let your heart lead the way on your walk and see where it takes you. Pay attention to where it lingers— does it pause at a particularly beautiful rosebush or guide you to a nearby park? Little clues that your inner self offers as it guides you can help you figure out what you need the most.
Although it seems simple and straightforward, listening to your heart can often be more elusive than you’d expect. Many experiences in life can leave us disconnected from our feelings, or encourage us to suppress or push them down. It’s important to stay in touch with our deeper selves. If you’ve been having a hard time paying attention to your emotions or inner voice, hopefully one of these techniques can help to bring your heart closer to the surface.