Listening to those nudges

Dr. Rich Patterson

Those nudges . . .

Are you listening?  Listening to those nudges, I mean.  Really listening to those nudges in your life?  Today I want to talk about listening through the darkness.  We all have dark times in our life when it just seems things are falling in on us. It might be a child that is off-track, a health issue, an addiction, family issues, work struggles, maybe a relationship problem.  Maybe we’re just overwhelmed by everything going on. When we’re in the middle of these times it can seem hopeless.  We think about giving up, just giving up on our dreams.  Know that we are never completely free from experiencing the difficulties of life.  But it is during those times that we learn the most.  When things are going well we’re not learning much because we’re happy and everything seems in alignment.  It is during those dark times that we learn something new about ourselves or find that we need to move in a new direction.

I can get overwhelmed and I know when it happens, but it always seems to be after the fact that I realize it.  Often when I reflect on it, I come to the conclusion that I am doing this to myself.  I might overbook my schedule with supposedly important obligations, job, family, spouse, and other duties that I assign myself. Then it happens, I just feel like I can’t go forward anymore.  Recently when I felt particularly unfocused I decided to make a list of “Things to Quit Doing.”  It felt so good to just list some things that I thought I needed to be a part of and write them down for abandonment.  It wasn’t a long list, but the things that made the list were all very involved and full of time commitments.  “Do I really need to keep doing this, I asked myself?”  It didn’t take long to really come to terms with myself that these were indeed the right things and now they needed commitment and action to abandon.  I also wanted to be sure that I didn’t just replace them with something else, but that the things I looked at were going to contribute to the use of my talents and would benefit others.

Making this list was easy because I had been ruminating in my head for a long time.  The problem was, I get so attached and involved with the big commitments in my life that I feel like it doesn’t matter how much time they take, it is something that I do and is important.  But those nudges, those little thoughts that pop in your head that say, “Really!  Are you going to spend several hours on that again?”  Do you listen to your nudges?  They can be non-verbal information that your body gives you.  It might be a tightness in your stomach or head.  But they can also be pieces of conversation that you come upon in various situations.  The other day I was walking into a restaurant and I overhead only a couple of words of a conversation and I immediately knew they were for me.  They just hit me.  I could have just as easily ignored them, but I spent sometime later thinking about their application.  Now understand they weren’t talking about me, it was just a couple of words that fit with a concern that I had.

Sometimes I turn on my car radio and just scan channels and see what words jump out.  They might be the announcer talking or words to a song.  Just a couple of them and very often, nearly always, they have application in some way in my life.  You might be walking by someone’s desk at work and hear just a few words that they are saying in a phone conversation.  I also have a few favorite radio programs that I listen to when I’m driving.  I turn them on and bingo within seconds the speaker is saying exactly what I need to hear.  Coincidence?  Maybe, maybe not.  How else can we be guided if not in subtle ways?

Take time in your life to really listen to what is around you in relation to a challenge in your life and I think you’ll find that the answers are right there.  If only we notice them, remember them, and then when we have time, think about them and how they can shape our lives.  I have found those little nudges to be quite helpful and have used them for years.

Leave me a note and let me know how you feel or have used this.

Rich