How often do you listen to the whisper of your dreams?


Today is November 25 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you listen to the whisper of your dreams?” Those who navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well listen to the whisper of their dreams. The word listen has an interesting etymology. It stems from Old English hlysnan (Northumbrian lysna) "to listen, hear; attend to, obey" which has as its root source the Sanskrit word srnoti "hears," and srosati "hears, obeys.” So, another way of asking today’s question is ”how often do you obey your own voice?” Listening to yourself is a critical strategy available for anyone navigating the chaos.


It is only through listening can we hear what American filmmaker Steven Spielberg called the whisper of our dreams: “When you have a dream, it often doesn’t come at you screaming in your face. Sometimes a dream almost whispers. And I have always said to my kids: the hardest thing to listen to — your instincts, your human personal intuition — always whispers; it never shouts and is hard to hear. So, you have to every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear. It very rarely shouts. And if you can listen to the whisper, and if it tickles your heart, and it’s something you think you want to do for the rest of your life, then that is going to be what you do for the rest of your life, and we will benefit from everything you do.”


The need to listen to your whisper is great. Author Charles Bukowski challenged readers to answer the question: “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” If you are unable to remember who you were, perhaps it is time to go to a quiet place and listen to the whisper of your dreams. Doing so can help you remember who you wanted to be before the voices of others drowned out the whisper of your dreams.


In September 2010, researchers from the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) provided academic research in support of today’s strategy of listening to your whisper. Published in the journal Acta Psychologica, the research demonstrated how using one’s inner voice plays an important role in controlling impulsive behaviour. According to lead author Dr. Alexa Tullett "We give ourselves messages all the time with the intent of controlling ourselves -- whether that's telling ourselves to keep running when we're tired, to stop eating even though we want one more slice of cake, or to refrain from blowing up on someone in an argument. We wanted to find out whether talking to ourselves in this 'inner voice' actually helps."


Tullett and Associate Psychology Professor Michael Inzlicht, both at UTSC, performed a series of self-control tests on participants. Upon assessing the results of the tests Inzlicht noted "Through a series of tests, we found that people acted more impulsively when they couldn't use their inner voice or talk themselves through the tasks. Without being able to verbalize messages to themselves, they were not able to exercise the same amount of self-control as when they could talk themselves through the process."


Commenting on the conversations people have with themselves, Tullett concluded "It's always been known that people have internal dialogues with themselves, but until now, we've never known what an important function they serve. This study shows that talking to ourselves in this 'inner voice' actually helps us exercise self-control and prevents us from making impulsive decisions." Listening to this inner voice, however, requires quiet to listen, stillness to reflect, and self-awareness to accept the situation.


As Dr. Stephen Joseph wrote in his March 13, 2018 "Listen to Your Inner Voice of Wisdom" article in Psychology Today “It is all too easy in the rush of everyday life not to give ourselves the time, solitude, and stillness to pay attention to what is genuinely going on inside ourselves; to make sense of the confusion of thoughts, feelings and sensations. The key to learning to pay attention to what is going on inside ourselves emotionally and psychologically is self-acceptance. Carl Rogers, the renowned humanistic psychologist, said ‘The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.’”

  • How often do you listen to your whisper?

  • How often are you quiet to listen?

  • How often do you remain still to reflect?

  • How often do you practice the self-awareness required to accept the life situation in which you find yourself listening to your whisper?

  • When is the last time you listened to your whisper?