Something Has to Change: Episode 20

Meggan Stephens

5/1/20247 min read

low light stage microphone photography
low light stage microphone photography

Active Listening

As a whole, society has mastered hearing without hearing. On average, we hear between 125-250 words per minute, but we think at 1000 words per minute. Studies have shown that following a conversation, we only recall about 50% of what a person spoke. Longterm, we only remember about 20% of what we've heard. You may consider yourself to be an engaged listener and effective communicator. However, studies have also shown that more than 75% of face to face communications are interpreted incorrectly. Why? We lack presence. We are a forgetful and distracted people, so preoccupied with our own thoughts and problems that we do not take time to actively listen to others.

How do we begin to solve this problem? We can start by examining the words of Jesus, as well as King David, Soloman, James and multiple other inspired writers of the Scriptures, each of whom proclaim the value and significance of active listening. Luke records the words of Jesus in chapter 8 as "Consider carefully how you listen." James says in verse 1:19 to "...Be quick to listen, slow to speak..." I'd say our biggest issue is not that we have it backwards, but that we lazily bypass listening altogether and hastily respond according to our own assumption of what we think someone is going to say, or what we interpret they mean by their statement.

Proverbs 19:20 instructs us to listen to advice and accept instruction so that we may gain wisdom. Granted, learning is acquired through listening, yet listening is typically not a skill that is taught, nor is it properly modeled. Active listening requires presence, full attention, focused concentration, and careful thinking. In any conversation, we must learn to empty our minds, put aside prideful pre-deceived notions, and resist the urge to respond with our own two-cents. Unless you're in the business of licensed therapy, it's not always your job to offer advice or solutions to other's problems. Practice witnessing from a place of observance without interruption, refraining from taking on the feelings and emotions of others.

If we're being honest, majority of us are bad listeners. The good news is that listening is a skill that can be developed, given you take the time and effort to grow in this area. Developing this skill will improve communication, build trust and relationships, acquire knowledge and understanding, and empower you to identify problems and resolve conflicts.


I'll use Stephen's words verbatim from Episode 20 in order to define self-awareness. In philosophy of self, self-awareness is the experience of one’s own personality or individuality. While consciousness is being aware of one’s body and environment, self-awareness is the recognition of that consciousness. Self-awareness is how an individual experiences and understands their own character, feelings, motives, and desires. It is not to be confused with consciousness. Metacognition is the awareness of one’s thought processes and the understanding of one’s patterns behind them. In essence, self-awareness is taking a look under the hood of the car that is you.

To be self-aware is to become aware of why you are the way that you are. It is an assessment of character or personality, one's emotions, thoughts, actions, and beliefs. To be self-conscious is to excessively focus on self in such a way as to become overly preoccupied with what others think of you or how they perceive you. Self-consciousness can lead to social anxiety, awkwardness, guilt, shame, feelings of unease, discomfort, and embarrassment. On the journey to learn who you are, it's important to not confuse the two.

A whopping 95% of people would consider themselves to be self-aware while in reality, only 10-15% of people are actually self-aware. The idea is, many of us think we know ourselves but in fact, we do not. It's easier this way, isn't it? The "ignorance is bliss" mindset is the cop-out. If you're ignorant to your own emotions, behaviors, and responses, there's no real work to be done in the category of self-improvement. You're free to blissfully continue doing what you want as you've always done with no real understanding or explanation of why. But for those who are seeking to change something, to experience life in a way that brings about a sense of purpose and fulfillment, we must begin to question the things that have shaped us into the people we are today.

How to Develop Self-Awareness

A lack of self-awareness will lead to hypocritical ways, and no one actually wants to be a hypocrite. So, the first step in developing self-awareness is to ask God to show you who you are. Believe it or not, He will. Find a moment in a quiet place and ask God questions such as, "What am I doing wrong?" "Why do I anger so easily?" "What about my thought process is hindering me from seeing life through a positive lens?" You may find that you don't like the things God begins to show you about yourself. But, as always, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and there's something that can be done to change that.

Studies have shown that 5% of our thoughts are conscious while the other 95% are subconscious. To only be aware of your conscious thought process is evidence that you don't truly know yourself. Journaling becomes a great practice to implement when developing self-awareness and uncovering who you are under the surface as well as exposing the root of your more complex issues. Journaling can help you analyze the thoughts and feelings on paper that are too difficult to map out in your head. For example, when you find yourself in a funk, ask yourself, "What's the checkpoint?" Grab a journal and write, "What emotion am I feeling and why do I feel this way?" Answer the question. "Who or what caused this feeling?" Answer again. As you answer, continue to dive deeper, implementing a reflective practice of studying yourself from an objective standpoint. This will help you to avoid feeling guilty and shameful of why you had the thought or feeling and instead notice patterns within yourself.

Another way to develop self-awareness is through meditation. Meditation has been discussed in several recent episodes. The reason being is because it has the potential to transform your life. If you find that meditation is stressful, it's probably because you're trying to run from your thoughts. Meditation is more than calming your mind and is not just about sitting quietly without having any thoughts. It's more-so about watching your thoughts rather than trying to resist them. Your normal thought process is heightened during meditation, forcing you to watch what is running through your mind and carefully examining where the thought is stemming from. Learn to address the thoughts in your mind rather than sweeping them under the rug and burying them in your subconscious.

When developing self-awareness, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, but also to your beliefs. As said in Episode 19, you can become trapped by your beliefs. Once again, this is not referring to the beliefs of the Bible, but the beliefs you may hold about yourself or life in general. Begin to challenge and question your beliefs. For example, if you believe "Respect is earned, not given," where did you acquire this belief? Chances are, it was shaped by your upbringing, society, something you witnessed, or a blend of the three. As you begin to examine where it came from, ask yourself why you believe it and how has it contributed to how you see and treat others. Examining your beliefs is a critical step in self-awareness as your beliefs can limit your growth.


Plain and simple, limitations restrict growth. A limitation mindset cannot be that of one who is self-aware, one who has actively listened to the voice and Word of God. Jesus Himself came to defy the limitations placed on His people from illnesses of the body and mind, fatal diseases, and death itself. From the very beginning, we were a people designed to overcome, to defy every limitation fathomable.

You could be told something negative about yourself all your life, and the moment someone comes along to counteract that negativity, you're likely to shut it down. This is because our brains default to hold onto negative information more than positive. It's somewhat of a mental phenomenon among us all. The result becomes limitations placed on ourselves by ourselves. Not only do we limit ourselves, we limit others, and others can limit us as well. It's a framework of thinking that you must choose to challenge and to change.

When defying limitations, cling to the words in Luke 1:37, "For nothing will be impossible with God." Do not forget that there is a Force on your side, helping you along the path of self-improvement, desiring to see you achieve the victory set for you. Stop limiting yourself when God has not. Stop allowing others to set limitations on you. After all, everything is impossible, until it isn't.

Something Has to Change

The "something" that has to change is you. It's me. It's all of us. Knowing yourself is based on the past. Learning yourself is based on the present. Discover who you are now, what has made you this way, and how those past experiences can lead you to improve and become the greater version of yourself now and in the future. There is always room for self-improvement. The possibilities and opportunities life has to offer for you are limitless. As you go through your week, look for opportunities to implement the three action steps given at the close of the episode.

3 Action Steps:
  1. Learn to be an active listener.

  2. Spend time studying yourself.

  3. Correct yourself when you limit yourself.

In a world where everyone is desperately seeking a rope to grab in relief from drowning in the madness of life, Contemporary Speaks is here to help you out. The host, Stephen, understands the fight for mental sanity and the lethality of a precarious mind. In Episode 20 of Something Has to Change, he discusses how to develop the skill of active listening, which can greatly benefit one's ability to identify and understand problems as well as strengthen relationships. He also expresses the necessity for proper self-awareness and why you should defy limitations to successfully experience change.

Want to dive deeper?

Watch the full episode