Self-Improvement Guide

How Selective Listening Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Selective listening is a bad habit that can be turned to a good one and help you with your aspirations

Selective listening is a type of filtering of all the opinions of others by hearing only those we want to hear. It can be a big problem, especially, when you need to look at something objectively but fail to do so because you refuse to listen to the opposite opinion. It happens because we tend to decide that we’re right no matter what and that means others are wrong.

While, in general, this phenomenon can be harmful by making you close-minded and even stubborn, in some cases, it can help stretch your limits and reach great heights of success.

Why is selective listening bad?

It’s hard to be a good partner, boss, friend, employee if you’re not a good listener. Yeah, it may be a pleasure to think you’re the only one who’s right (who don’t think so?), but hardly can it bring happiness in your life. To make matters worse, it’s easy to make ill-judged decisions when you don’t listen to the opposite opinion. But, sure, life is great when you deny these unpleasant views of those who are wrong, huh?

But why does the title of the article say we can benefit from it?

How can we use that?

Imagine the situation (or even just remember, I bet everyone has plenty of similar circumstances in their life). You decide to quit smoking, start writing, quit nine-to-five, write a song, change your career path, whatever that requires some effort and throws out of your comfort zone.

Once you’ve established such a goal, you’re probably excited to announce it to others, to your friends, family, coworkers. You may even post the decision on social media. But once you’ve announced your great life-changing goal, the world immediately gets divided into two kinds of people: those who support you and those who don’t.

Well, okay, not immediately, initially some people seem to be supportive but start making small remarks. “Are you sure you’re capable of doing that?” “Many people try to do that, yet only a few succeed”. “It’s good you no longer eat added sugar, but maybe you’ll make an exception this time? Anyway, you can’t stand it long.”. “Don’t be childish, you won’t be able to bear more than you can handle”.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. They all have their reasons. They all want to help you. Or not? Some people don’t want you to excel, some people think you’re mediocre, some people don’t believe in you much.

Okay, some people do want to help you, they want to prevent you from failure. But. You miss 100% percent of the shots you don’t take. And yes, you may fail. On the other hand, that means you may succeed. Even if the odds are not in your favor.

When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor. © Elon Musk

But why shouldn’t you listen to those who tell you you’re gonna fail?

Well, it’s simple. If you’re struggling to achieve a complicated difficult goal, you need nothing but support from those around you. Imagine if you’re trying to climb a mountain and your friends are pulling you back, holding your legs, clothes. It doesn’t actually help you, it doesn’t strengthen you, it increases the chance you’ll fail.

Why should you carry that burden instead of having some support? Just avoid listening to them. You’ve already decided to go down that road, no advice is needed. Just focus on the goal and move towards it. And your friends and relatives have to either support you or shut their nice mouths. And the support is beneficial.

The reason why it’s good to listen to those who support you

The reason is pretty simple. Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you, and, usually, this is the only thing needed to go above and beyond and exceed your own expectations. Because when people believe in you, you can handle more than you thought you could, you believe in yourself and do everything you can and even more.

Moreover, supportive people around you make you feel they have your back. That helps since you know there are some people who can hear you out and help if you need it. After all, you enjoy being with those who support your ideas, they inspire you to continue your journey and reach the target.

Personal examples

Everyone can easily remember how people around you killed your dream by being unsupportive, as well as you can easily remember how you went an extra mile when you thought you couldn’t but your closest friends, parents or partners helped you believe in yourselves and gave you the strength to reach the goal.

For instance, I didn’t speak English almost at all just 2 years ago. And I had to reach the advanced level of the language. Everyone would tell me I couldn’t do that. Everyone but my wife. After 11 months I passed the English exam (IELTS) and got 8.5 of 9 points overall. And I’m sure I wouldn’t have done that, had my wife not believed in me. Especially these 3 times when I had no energy to continue trying and couldn’t believe in myself. 3 times a day. Every day.

I’m sure everyone has the same story. So, the point is you can do anything and become anyone way easier if you have someone who believes in you. Thus, surrounding ourselves with supportive friends and family and filtering others’ opinions out does help.

To sum up

Although it can be harmful to listen selectively to others in many cases, when it comes to your aspirations, your desires, your dreams, it’s better to listen to those who think you can and ignore those who think you can’t achieve the desired result.

It’s good to have someone who supports you, but, after all, it’s even better to pursue your dreams alone than having to listen to negative opinions and raise the odds of failure.

Lifelong learner, iOS Developer striving for self improvement

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store