Are You There?

 

listening 2

Listening in body only is when you are talking and the person seems physically attentive, yet it is as if they are looking through you, sort of like they are in a conscious coma.  The person is physically present but is mentally elsewhere.  Have you had this experience before?   Usually after you have talked a little with no response you might wonder or even ask, “Did you hear what I said?”  Often the person will say “No, I am sorry.  Can you repeat that?”  The person truly was not mentally present for the conversation.  While I imagine this has happened to all of us at one time or another, it is an issue if it keeps happening with the same person.

Often the person who is zoning out while you are talking is preoccupied with something.  Life is overwhelming at times.  If you know you are overwhelmed and not able to give someone your attention who is asking for it, just let them know.  You might say, “I know you are really stressed right now and I do want to hear about it, however, I am too upset right now to focus.  Can we meet for lunch?”  This type of response is respectful to both self and others.  Or it could be that you have trouble with keeping up with what the other person is saying so it is easier to zone out and just do the best you can to give the appearance of understanding what they are saying.

Reflective listening is a wonderful skill to help you stay with the person mentally.  Reflective listening is simply repeating back what you think you heard the person say.  This is a very caring act.  It shows you are intentionally trying to hear what the person wants to tell you.  It is important when you reflect back what you think you heard that you do so without adding your own twist to it.

Think of this as if you were looking in the mirror.  What you see is your reflection.  No additions or subtractions; just you. With this type of listening that is all you do.  Reflect what you think you heard.  For example, you might say, “So you received exceeds expectations in every area but one and for the third year in a row you didn’t get a promotion?”  If you are correct the person will usually say, “Yes, and…” on they will go with more detail.  If you didn’t get it quite right the person can correct you so you understand what they meant.   “So you got exceeds in almost every area and they still did nothing to honor that?”  The person might say, “Well they did give me a good bonus, but I have been waiting for this promotion.  I am so frustrated.”   It is a wonderful gift to interact with someone who is sincerely trying to hear you.

 

 

What Does It Mean To Be Spiritual?

spirituality
In my book I describe something called The Circle of Life, which describes various areas of our lives that are important and need to be in balance. One area is one’s Spiritual Life. This aspect of the circle entails seeking your highest level of spiritual truth and growth. For many of us this area is associated with our religious life. That certainly can be a big part of this piece. However, I want to broaden that view. According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, spiritual can mean “of or relating to sacred matters; ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal; relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit; concerned with religious values.” There were several more definitions too. You can see that spiritual life is more than just the church we attend.

Abraham Maslow created a concept called self-actualization. He spoke of self-actualization as a person’s innate need. Self-actualization, he proposed, is our need for the full development of our potentialities. I believe this is our highest level of spiritual growth. Developing our spiritual self involves deepening our self-knowledge and taking time to cultivate our creative selves. Igniting your creative potentials opens you up to new learnings and insights. This involves becoming more spontaneous in your life. This will mean something different to each of you.

In her book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron states, “Creativity is an experience-to my eye, a spiritual experience. It does not matter which way you think of it: creativity leading to spirituality or spirituality leading to creativity. In fact, I do not make a distinction between the two.” I love this view that the more we are each aware of our creative selves the more potential we have to reach our fullest spiritual being.

If many of the other areas of our life are out of balance, it is often hard to have a sound spiritual self. On the flip side, if we have a firmly developed spiritual self, it can help us survive various crises in the other areas. What does your spiritual life mean to you?

Don’t Succumb To The Darkness!

Beacon of Light
It seems so many people are feeling dissatisfied in their lives. We hear it daily on the many newscasts about individuals making so many negative choices: from dishonesty, to addictions, to murders, to suicides etc. More so, we hear it closer to home, such as in our neighborhoods, workplaces and in our social situations. And, many of you reading this are struggling with general dissatisfaction and discouragement.

When we feel this way we tend to make decisions that hurt us in one way or another. What can we do to feel more satisfied and in control of our lives? Well, for starters, since we cannot control all the external events that occur, let’s start with an aspect we can do something about: ourselves! This is one area you DO have the power to effect positive change!

One area you can have an influence on is your thoughts and attitudes. Be mindful about not allowing yourself to get swallowed up by others negative attitudes. Guard the attitudes you have that serve your good; attitudes that are more focused on positive truths than negative truths. Even during difficult times you have a choice as to how to view the situation.

Same is true for your thoughts. Your thoughts have so much power over your feelings and behaviors that it is critical to stay aware of them. Certainly it is okay to acknowledge the bad event that has occurred and to speak whatever your truth is about it. Then I encourage you to be mindful of your thoughts in general. Remind yourself of the good people you have in your life today and the many good things you have done for others and they have done for you. Put the bad in perspective with the whole. Allowing dark thoughts to overshadow the light will only let the negative win.

Your reactions and behaviors are also critical to overcoming the negative that does occur. When something bad happens whether it be globally; to people you know; or even closer to home, your reactions and behaviors can help counter the bad by bringing in the good. If a violent act has occurred in the world you can teach and model peace and cooperation. Do the opposite. If someone you know has suffered a loss or is experiencing a painful event, be an encouragement. Visit them, bring them a meal, clean their house, do their yard, whatever you can do to show kindness. Remember, only light overcomes darkness. Be part of the light.

As long as humankind has existed bad things have occurred on all levels. Yet, humans have a way of overcoming. Choose to be part of the healing, not part of the divisiveness. Being an encouragement and a source of hope to a few is a wonderful gift to give. Never minimize what your light can do to those who need it. When you bless others you also are blessed.

What Path Is Your Life Following?

path
What path is your life following? This question will help you identify the areas in your life that are being fulfilled and going in the direction you want. It will also help you address the areas in your life that you are not happy with or the aspects of your life in which you know you are not living up to your full potential. Only you can decide when you are ready to take responsibility for where you are in life and where you want to be.

It is important to evaluate one’s life. If you do not, then you will just be reacting to what comes your way instead of creating or being proactive in your life.

Identifying the path your life is following encourages reflection on all aspects of your well-being. It is time to focus on and evaluate many components of your life. This especially involves how you feel about yourself and how those feelings, conscious or unconscious, either get in your way or help you. Wisdom comes from reflection, and without it you are just following the path presented instead of creating the path you want.

Identifying where your life is falling short can be difficult, but it is very valuable because only then can you concentrate on what needs to be changed. Maybe you are very successful in your career, but your interpersonal relationships are rocky at best. Maybe you are the one who helps everyone except yourself. Do others view you as very self-confident and secure but you know otherwise?

To get where you want to be you must first know where you are. This is of utmost importance. It is time to come clean with yourself. No one else can help you grow emotionally and spiritually until you are able to identify that you have an emotional or spiritual need. Self-honesty is essential. Pretending to be OK or strong is just that, pretending, and as you know, it is often a lot of work. Why not stop working so hard at being something you’re not and address how you really feel inside and how you can change the areas that need your attention! You are in charge of your own personal growth! Take charge!