When You Need to Stop Listening

When You Need to Stop Listening

Sometimes we think we need to listen to other people to find out the best way.

It’s easy to feel that we need to learn better strategies, do more exercises and read more blog posts before we can find the best course of action. Doing this gets us caught in a doom spiral of endless preparation.

Today a client was telling me that he felt like there were so many ebooks out there he needed to read. “There’s so much great information that could help me improve or find a better way to do things.”

The problem was that despite consuming a lot of ebooks and courses he still wasn’t any closer to finding out what he wanted to do. But couldn’t there be the perfect exercise out there waiting to give you a blinding epiphany? Maybe… but probably not.

Angels don’t explode from the sky in a chorus delivering your true calling upon reading your 100th book. But sometimes we keep searching for an answer from someone else anyway, and it’s often because we’re not confident that we have the answers within ourselves.

Alan Watts once said “If you don’t get it from yourself, where will you get it?” I think that’s true. We can seek advice and look at the examples of others, but it’s our own inner wisdom that must guide us. If not, we’ll keep searching on a path to nowhere. Or worse, live based on someone else’s idea of what our life should be.

If you’re struggling to find your passion, or what you want your life to be about, yes, sometimes exercises and workbooks can help. Hell, I have a few available for free here. But they can only take you so far.

The best guidance you can get is from yourself. Everything you need is inside you. The best map is the one you create as you walk your path.

If you’re struggling with this my suggestion is to go on an information diet. Don’t read any blogs, books, ebooks or take in any inputs for a few weeks (or months if you’re bold). Spend some time reflecting and meditating on what you want your life to be about.

And perhaps, more importantly, allow yourself to really believe that this is possible. You can’t get permission or confidence by looking at the notes or approval of others. Faith comes from deeply trusting yourself.

If you’re struggling with this, I invite you to unplug from all the inputs for a while and see what’s inside of you.

My question for you: Have you ever struggled with information overload? What did you do about it?

photo courtesy of x-ray delta

 

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78 Comments on "When You Need to Stop Listening"

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TimBrownson
Guest

In short, GO WITH YOUR GUT, because it knows best* ;-)

*very occasionally your gut instinct is wrong, but that’s no reason to ever stop trusting it because it is way smarter than your conscious mind.

meganever
Guest
I did exactly what you’re warning about here. I just found the receipt from my first e-course today. It was July 1, 2009. I literally spent the last 2 years reading voraciously and acquiring every ebook, audio course and webinar that “rang a bell” with me. — Actually in my case, it actually worked. I was so good at listening to what other people wanted that I no longer knew how to access that part of myself that knew what I wanted. Even traditional reflection and meditation seemed fruitless, but I was a pretty extreme case of being out of… Read more »
livingauthentically
Guest

Yes and no. Sometimes I can’t find anything on what I want to know about.

I don’t think I’m omniscient. I do think it can be delightful and valuable to learn from others. So I don’t think all the answers are inside us. But we certainly can stop ourselves doing what we already know.

baker.lawley
Guest

Yes. I think we all suffer from overload–and with the constant stream of internet information, it’s very easy to fall into feeling like you don’t know something everybody else does.

The best solution I’ve found is just to take action. Go ahead and start your project, even if you’re not 100% sure. There’s time for adjustment and tweaking, but there’s never enough time to learn everything first.

Start, take action, and keep learning as you go–because then you’ll also be creatively teaching yourself instead of relying only on ebooks and ideas from other people.

nickdanforth
Guest

I used to struggle with information overload.

The most effective way to combat is to disconnect/untether from services/information streams that aren’t providing enough value.

I unsubscribed from numerous blogs, deleted Facebook, unfollowed most people on Twitter, etc.

I also practice being present in the real world instead of glued to the screen. The Net tends to throw too much at us all at once. In real life, information moves in a way that our minds are better suited to absorb (in my opinion).

murphtim
Guest

Yeah I’ve been on that hamster wheel before, many times. The best thing I’ve done to escape the information overload is to detach from it all (like you said Jonathan). I’ll cut myself off and not allow myself to dive back in for some predetermined length of tie like 5 days or something. Then I try to get back “in the moment”, do things I enjoy and make sure I’m present and not fixated on the future and what I “should” be doing. Just stop, relax and enjoy life as it is.

brotheryellow
Guest

i take my hearing aids out when im done listening.

Fiona Leonard
Guest

I unsubscribe from mailing lists and clean out the folder on my desktop where I save all the ebooks I download.

When I start working on a new project/topic I tend to subscribe to a lot of blogs to get a sense of what’s out there, and then weed them out as I go along.

I agree with Tim that gut feeling is a good place to start. Often you can tell the minute you open an ebook/new blog whether it’s going to be worth the effort.

Megzspeakz
Guest
I had a break down.. just last month.. I am trying to get myself started as a money and biz coach for people struggling to get started.. and I had a break down myself due to all this information overload… I know my stuff but was advised to complete a few exercises which led to a few more and then some.. So, now I am actually in the process of implementing what you are suggesting here.. I have packed away those books and have started working on it.. I offered help to few women within my networks and now I… Read more »
yTravelBlog
Guest

When I need an answer for something i always stop what I am doing and meditate. I know that the answers are within me and going to this quiet powerful place helps me find it. I always have amazing breakthroughs. It never used to be like this though, I was an information junkie and learned that it was just overwhelming me and not helping me find the way.

TheDameIntl
Guest

OMG I really needed to read this today. I am SO frustrated right now. I spend hours looking at everyone else in my business wondering why, when Im doing exactly the same thing, they have business and I dont. Ive closed down my Tweetdeck and unsubscribed from their blogs. Watching everyone else succeed at the same thing gets me down and distracts me from figuring out what I truly want to do with this business. Im trying to imitate instead of find my joy in it.

TheDameIntl
Guest

@yTravelBlog Im not good at meditating but Im learning that sitting quietly and burning sage calms me down and brings me answers. Its extremely hard for me to switch off my racing thoughts, so I think about the things what would make me feel ecstatic if they happened and then I feel better!

doolin
Guest

The irony, of course, is that I’m over here commenting…

AnthonyKuo
Guest

I used to buy information products like crazy and never implemented anything… and then I wondered why I wasn’t getting any results. After a while I started to realize that they all were saying the same thing in different ways…and I just needed to take action. In the last couple of months I banned myself from looking at sales pages and buying new info products…because they just weren’t adding much to my life.

doolin
Guest

The irony, of course, is that I’m here commenting.

In a larger sense, I have found there is value in listening simply to allow others to be heard, whether or not I intend to act on it or not. It’s about being part of the conversation.

sascha906
Guest
This was so timely! Just yesterday I had a minor depressive episode because I get so unsure of how to sift through all the information out there. Trying to learn something in these times is easy because there is so much at our disposal, but I don’t think we are equipped to deal with this overload. My best advice is to listen to your inner self, and let things grow organically. Often the most successful people in their respective business is someone who turned it all off and just DID IT. That’s what I try to do now, and only… Read more »
sascha906
Guest
This was so timely! Just yesterday I had a minor depressive episode because I get so unsure of how to sift through all the information out there. Trying to learn something in these times is easy because there is so much at our disposal, but I don’t think we are equipped to deal with this overload. My best advice is to listen to your inner self, and let things grow organically. Often the most successful people in their respective business is someone who turned it all off and just DID IT. That’s what I try to do now, and only… Read more »
doolin
Guest

@TheDameIntl I finally decided that if I wasn’t making enough money (let’s face it, money rocks!) doing what I was “supposed” to be doing, I might as well be doing something I liked doing.

janicemacleod
Guest

I love the information diet. It’s a cleansing for the soul.

jpb555
Guest

I agree with JM’s advice limit the amount of advice that you intake. Contrary to that advice, I want to make a point by recommending another book! Tim Sander’s Today We Are Rich; pg 235 identifies the difference btwn following passions (self) and finding a purpose (service). Huge distinction and it snapped me out of a deep funk of depression.

521solutions
Guest

@baker.lawley I agree with you on this the key is to take in then take action on what you take in.

521solutions
Guest
I will have to admit that I am an info junkie. I consume large amounts of information but I rarely act upon what I have consumed. Recently recognizing this down fall I posted the this tweet “For those who are always getting ready to do something, stop obsessing over information and do something now!” http://tinyurl.com/6k68h5j I believe the key is action, and also only consuming what you plan to implement immediately. When eating food I practice only eating to satisfy my hunger and try not to overeat. I believe that this same thing can be applied to information, eat until… Read more »
alchemy4thesoul
Guest

So true-we drown out the inner voice with permanent busyness and info overload. It is this simple-quieten the mind, spend time alone reflecting and getting in touch with your real self, recognise emotion (energy in motion) and understand what the deeper message is telling you. It is all about heart first then engaging head but unfortunately 99% are doing it the wrong way round.

Jasmine
Guest

@Megzspeakz I love your willingness to share your experience. And everyone else’s comments as well. Even though I’m deeply committed to listening within I also sometimes think I have to keep up with all the information and I imagnie it is simple and easy for everyone else!

Here’s to making clear decisions about where we want to put our attention and care and to not neglecting our inner ears.

32000days
Guest

I find that information overload happens when I am doing too much <i>consuming</i> and not enough creating. When I’m reading, reading, reading, and not producing, that’s when the uncertainty steps in and the information overload threatens. When I’m working diligently – whether that be writing or with clients – this tends not to be a problem. (Maybe because I’m too busy and engaged to see all that information out there?)

TonyTeegarden
Guest
The best thing in the world for me is to trust my inner wisdom. It’s nearly impossible for someone to provide you with answers without them injecting what they value most into the advice. It takes someone skilled to simply help you ask yourself better questions so as to allow you to operate from your own value system rather than their own. Or for you to even uncover and discover your own values. (not all coaches are skilled at this) People “giving you answers” is no substitute for self awareness and doing the self work. There’s no real “easy” way.… Read more »
JonathanMead
Guest

@TonyTeegarden That’s a great point Tony, and you’re absolutely right. It’s really hard for people to give you their advice without being biased.

JonathanMead
Guest

@32000days I think everything comes in waves. Sometimes we feel very drawn to creating, and other times very drawn to taking things in. It’s important to honor those feelings and try to create a balance.

JonathanMead
Guest

@alchemy4thesoul That time is really important. For me getting lost (not literally) on the trail in the heart of the woods is the best medicine for me.

JonathanMead
Guest

@521solutions That might be a good idea… for every thing you consume it’s required that you match it with an action, or you don’t get to consume it…

JonathanMead
Guest

@jpb555 That’s a great distinction, thanks for sharing that.

JonathanMead
Guest

@janicemacleod Sometimes you have to take out all the noise to see what’s really there…

JonathanMead
Guest

@sascha906 Congratulations on taking steps to do something about it. That’s huge.

JonathanMead
Guest

@doolin I’ll make an exception and overlook it this time. ;)

JonathanMead
Guest

@AnthonyKuo That’s awesome Anthony. I know that big things are in store for you.

JonathanMead
Guest

@TheDameIntl I had to stop myself from doing this last year. I was getting really disappointed comparing my success to everyone else (of course we never seem to compare it to people that have achieved less…). I had to realize that we’re all running our own race.

JonathanMead
Guest

@Fiona Leonard That’s a great practice Fiona. I’ve been doing this with my email a lot lately because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. Filtering is awesome.

JonathanMead
Guest

@livingauthentically Always the contrarian. :) Thanks for your input.

JonathanMead
Guest

@brotheryellow I wish I could do that.

JonathanMead
Guest

@murphtim That’s a great practice Tim. I think it would be really great if we could all do this for one week a month.

JonathanMead
Guest

@nickdanforth That’s the ultimate litmus test: is it improving my life?

JonathanMead
Guest

@TimBrownson You’re right, as usual Tim. Thanks for joining the conversation.

gwynmichael
Guest
How funny is it that I came here to read this just as I said to myself “you need to stop all this searching, clean out your in box and get to work!” I’m so glad I chose this as the last one for now. I would not be where I am were it not for the wisdom of yourself and quite a few other wise writers out there, but there is a point where enough is enough. I know what I need to do and I am ready to get to work. The ebooks will always be there when… Read more »
Sal_Greco
Guest

Excellent piece Jonathan, thank you… Quick question… Would this mean you might not post for a month? hm…

I absolutely feel you on this… There is no research, or keyword analysis that I can run to tell me Surfers need help… Help freeing themselves from 9-5’s so they can surf, and help surfing better! It is a gut feeling I get from being involved in the surfing community and speaking with surf business clients daily.

Mahalo, and Surfs up!

LennySupak
Guest

I became enlightened with information “overload” . Whatever it takes as long as no one is harmed.

NeuralCorrelate
Guest

Wise words Jonathan. I took a hiatus from reading books and blogs for awhile and instead when into “take action” mode. It is very easy to get analysis paralysis.

brandybwine2
Guest

Sometimes I feel that there is not enough of the right kind of information. There is so much: “you should….; doing … will …”, “I did …now look at ….”. There isn’t enough of: “If you want to ……., Then you should take these steps….by doing……”.

jackinessity
Guest

Commenting not so much because I have something useful to say in reply but more to acknowledge I’m here and listening. I am struggling to trust myself. I don’t think I do. I’ve let myself down, before. I certainly have been meeting people and doing things that I would not have believed possible a year ago. But I’m just so overwhelmed at the moment that it’s hard to have that kind of faith that I need, to keep walking forward. We’ll see. I really hope you’re right.

AndrewToynbee
Guest
Before embarking on my first ‘real’ novel I dredged the ‘net for advice and tips until my mind was spinning – and I probably hadn’t even scratched the surface of the Information Superhighway. Nevertheless I kept reading and reading, printing out reams so that I’d have the information to hand. Needless to say, most of those reams are still unread! I began to notice though that many ‘advisers’ were largely giving out the same information – and realised that the law of diminishing returns was applying. The more I read, the less new stuff I found. That was the point… Read more »
Allysho
Guest

Actually there’s one good thing about voraciously consuming information – eventually all the information crashes together in your brain and implodes, leaving you clear and fresh and empty. The only place left to look then is inside…

*grin

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