Isn’t It All About Me?

listening skilss

 “Yesterday at the mall I heard someone call my name and to my surprise it was a girlfriend from high school that I hadn’t talked to in twenty years.  I was so stunned that for a moment…”; “Oh I know – the same thing happened to me when I was at the airport and…”  And on the person goes and before you know it, you are listening to them.  Has this happened to you?  Switching the conversation on to you and making it about you is another bad listening trait. Sometimes the other persons sharing is woven into the conversation so creatively that afterwards you forget what your original thought was!  My hope is that you don’t have too many friends doing this too often.  This would make for very one-sided friendships.

This can be so frustrating.  Being that I have training in how to be a good listener, I find it somewhat amusing when someone does this to me.  I am hyper-sensitive to it and find it amazing when a person seems so oblivious to what just occurred and seems content to go on.  I typically entertain their interjections for a time and that is it.  I simply shut-down.  I keep future conversations superficial and tend not to spend too much time with them.  But not everyone picks up on these conversation table turners.  I have heard many people in my office talk about their supposed close friend who they feel they listen to more than talk to.  The person knows it is one sided, but allows it to go on.

If you have someone in your life that you value but you feel they talk more than listen, you can try to address this. You can express it verbally or in writing.  You might say something like, “I really enjoy when we do things together, however, I don’t often feel like you listen to what am I saying when I try and share what’s going on with me.”  If the person is able to hear you then there is potential for positive change in the relationship.

If you know you are someone who tends to do this I encourage you to ask yourself why and what.  Why do you so often shift things to yourself and what might be going on with you?  Do you think you might do this because you are nervous and don’t know what to say so you just start talking?  Are you overwhelmed and can’t help yourself?  Maybe this is your way of showing you are listening?  If you want to have mutually satisfying relationships it is important to gain more clarity about this tendency.

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Is It Ever Okay To Interrupt?

interrupting

Interrupting all the time is sure to be one of the top traits of a bad listener. This one is very common and one I am guessing we are all guilty of from time to time.  Isn’t it frustrating when you are trying to share something and the person is constantly interrupting?  There are many reasons a person might interrupt you. Some interruptions are valid such as when you are seeking clarification, “Did you say you handed that in ten days ago?”   Interrupting for clarification a time or two can show you are really listening and wanting to make sure you heard the person correctly.  However, even this can be bothersome if the person constantly has to stop and clarify.  If you do this enough the person talking may decide to shut down or may tell you to let them finish their story before you to ask your questions.

However, many interruptions don’t originate from such good intentions.  Often a person interrupts because they are impatient with the story teller, wants to correct them, prefers to argue the point, or they may be so narcissistic that they can’t bear the focus to be on someone else. In working with couples I have witnessed one partner interrupting the other due to impatience. Each of us process information in our own unique way. The one becomes inpatient with the other because he or she isn’t making their point quick enough. Because the other doesn’t communicate as quickly and concisely as you doesn’t mean they are doing it wrong .It just means the person communicates in a more paced and measured way.

Immensely frustrating and even offensive is when you interrupt another because you don’t agree with them and want to get your two cents in before letting that person finish. Being respectful of different viewpoints is imperative for healthy relationships and shows strength of character in the listener.   Debating another’s view when the person is clearly not in need of or interested in a debate is also very rude and inconsiderate. And the “all-consumed with themselves” have little ability to stay present with the others frame of reference any substantial length of time.

If you struggle with interrupting others I encourage you to make a conscious effort to stop or reduce the frequency.  Certainly seeking clarification from time to time is important.  However, try remaining with the person’s story.  Listening is not about agreeing with the person, it’s about respecting their viewpoint.  Remember the person is sharing their perspective, not necessarily yours.  And that is ok!  Also, remain alert to let them finish a thought before you interject.  You can even count to three before you respond to be sure they are done with that part of their sharing. Decreasing interruptions is a good start to becoming a better listener.

Fun listening quote “Of course I’m listening, now what was that you said”?

 

Relaxation Is Just As Important As Working! Agree?

relaxation
Many of you are busy with numerous responsibilities during the week; the various work demands that most of you experience. Many of you are working well over forty hours a week. Then there are the multiple demands of family, children, household responsibilities and the like. Does it seem like all you do is go, go, go? And sometimes it is easy to get so used to the adrenalin of doing that you can forget how to relax and slow down.
The need for taking time to relax cannot be emphasized enough. According to Random House Webster’s College Dictionary relax can mean “to release or bring relief from the effects of tension, anxiety, etc.” And, “to become less tense, rigid or firm.” Sound good? Some of you may understand the importance of incorporating a way of relaxing into your life. However I am sure many of you find it too difficult to fit into your busy schedule.
Taking time to relax is the antidote to stress which is known to contribute to disease and general dissatisfaction in life. Relaxing on purpose slows your breathing down which helps relax your body. Your muscles have the opportunity to rest and it is good for your heart. The mental health benefits are ample. Your ability to focus, make decision and even your sleep may improve.
I understand that what is relaxing to each of you may be different. Some enjoy going to the beach, laying out in the sun and reading a book. Others find gardening relaxing. Maybe relaxing for you would be simply taking an hour nap in the middle of the day, or sitting and meditating. Or maybe you would be willing to treat yourself to a massage, facial, pedicure or acupuncture.
Although the demands of all your responsibilities are still lingering, you will be more refreshed, and I believe better equipped to handle the multiple burdens that life has for you. When you allow yourself the gift of relaxation, when you prioritize taking time for even a small amount of relaxation during your day or days off you will greatly benefit.
On your next day off or this weekend, I encourage you to allow yourself to have some genuine down time. Time when your mind is not listing the ten things you need to get done today. Time when you’re not physically moving about doing the many chores that need to get done. Time when you slow down your heart rate, breathing and movement. Time to actually do what is called-relaxing!
I encourage you to remember that you are important, that you matter and to put yourself on your own priority list. If you allow yourself the gift of relaxation this will aid you physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. You are in charge of making relaxation a part of your weekly ritual. Decide you are worth taking time to give your body, mind and spirit a well-deserved rest.

What’s Wrong With My Lover?

romantic love
Life is an interesting journey. It seems the older we get the more twists and turns come along. For many of us finding a partner, a mate, has been our main agenda. In our younger years we assumed we would grow up and meet a wonderful mate, get married and live happily ever after! What has happened?
As we all know from the divorce rate, marriages are not doing well. Couples, whether married or not, are having trouble staying together through the many challenges life brings into their relationships. The story we always imagined for ourselves is not reading the way we had hoped.
What is going on? I want to discuss one significant issue that I believe has a great impact on our relationship’s success or failure. I often say to clients that the two greatest things we do in life are being a partner and/or being parent, yet there is no training required for either. That is amazing! The only preparation we usually have is from our family of origin and our past love relationships. I strongly believe one of the best things we can do for our relationship is to become healthier ourselves prior to getting seriously involved with someone.
So what about those of us who are already in a committed relationship, divorced, or remarried? It is never too late. Often you need to start with yourself. It’s easy to become very discouraged and negative with our significant other. While many of your complaints may be valid, the only person you have control over is you. Check out your expectations. What are they? Where did they come from? Are they realistic? I remember growing up my favorite fairytale was Cinderella! (That really set me up for failure!) Think about the music you listen to and the message it is sending you about love and what it should be like!
Often we have many of our own unmet needs. Maybe you never felt loved as a child. Maybe you never felt you were good enough for one of your parents? Consciously or unconsciously we often expect our partner to fill our voids. Often they do initially, but fall short down the road. Address the parts that are about you. Become clear on what you need to heal within yourself, and what aspects of your relationship need improvement. I understand this is often a fine line but, it is one worth exploring before you make a decision about beginning or ending a relationship. The person you have the most influence over is you! Best to look there first.

I Don’t Want to Eat My Green Beans!

vegtables
Growing up I distinctly remember my mother trying to feed me those awful vegetables. I didn’t do too well with her canned string beans or cooked carrots. Of course she explained to me how important it was for me to eat my vegetables because they have lots of vitamins and nutrition that I needed. Unfortunately her reasoning did not convince me to eat what she said was good for me.

This got me to thinking about our lives as adults and how many things we know are good for us to do, yet we don’t choose to do them. I am assuming now that we are adults that most of us understand how important it is to eat our vegetables. The majority of us logically know about many other things that are also very important to our health yet for many you don’t comply with what you know to be good for you.

Today I want to focus on your physical health and a few areas that you may struggle with doing what is good for you. An important task for us all is to attend yearly physical check-ups and other recommended preventative procedures. Although I do not want to be nor mean to be sexist, I will admit that the majority of female clients, friends, acquaintances that I have are prudent about the need to attend their yearly check-ups and take the time to attend these appointments. I am sure there are exceptions to this and for these women I encourage you to consider what may be keeping you from taking care of and responsibility for your physical health.

Many of the men I know personally, or my friends’ husbands or clients seem to have some resistance to taking time for regular yearly physicals. This is of course not true for all men, but I have witnessed it often. If you are one of these men that don’t usually see a doctor I plead with you to reconsider. Ask yourself what is stopping you. Remind yourself that prevention is always best and it is a good thing when the doctor tells you all is well!

Another essential area is our eating habits. We all know how important it is to give our bodies the fuel it needs to work most effectively. In this area I hear a lot of “I know I should but…” comments. What makes this area so hard for you? Are you eating fast food often? Buying frozen food to pop in the microwave? How is it that for so many the vehicle that moves us about in this world is often treated so badly; even neglected?

Exercise is also something that is good for us. Regular exercise is good at any age and even more important as we age. Exercise helps us cardiovascularly; assists us in keeping our muscle tone; helps our metabolism; and can improve mood. I understand that many of us have excellent reasons why it is hard to fit this into our lives. Life is very hectic. However, exercise is also good for you and needs to be incorporated into your lifestyle.

I hope that this blog today will more motivate you to take responsibility for your body overall. You are given this one body to move about on this earth and it is your job to take care of that body. The healthier your body is the better you will feel in the other areas of your life. Ignoring your body puts you at great risk of suffering unnecessarily.

What Kind of Karma Are You Creating?

Karma
Karma is a word that many of us have heard or even used ourselves. It is an interesting concept. While the meaning of Karma is more extensive than I am going to share, one simple definition by Merriam-Webster.com says that Karma is “the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to people.” While some believe this Karma is transferred to future lives I will focus on our existence in this life time.

Are your actions and words creating good Karma for you? Do you feel good about how you’re leading your life? Ideally I prefer to behave in ways I feel good about. It is an honorable goal. I find it easier to do this when I am being conscious of my choices. I can more easily behave and speak in ways I want when the situation is calm and I am somewhat in control. The challenge seems to come during those other times that are unexpected, dramatic and sometimes hurtful.

I recently read a quote that said something to the effect of “How someone else behaviors with you is there Karma how you respond to them is yours.” Wow! I posted that for a while in my office as a reminder to myself. I recently had a hurtful and surprising experience happen with a medical professional in the community. It set me off balance mostly because it was hard to understand how someone could behave in such a manner. Can any of you relate? Did that then give me permission to behave in kind? I didn’t want that so I had to stay very aware of my choices in responses and also how I elected to view the situation.

What situations challenge your character? Is it the rude person in line at the store? Is it your cranky neighbor? Is it your son’s coach? The person who is driving too fast or too slow? How do you choose to react? How do you deal with frustrating situations? And are you willing to help someone when you see a need; to behave in kindness. I know this can be a challenge for many of us and I certainly haven’t been perfect. However, noticing your reactions to people is a worthy endeavor.

Creating good Karma seems like a wonderful idea. Weather you believe in Karma or not the concept of behaving in ways that display the best of you sounds like a good way to go!

Ways to Cope With Change

change
How well do you cope with change? Do you find it fairly easy; are you at ease with being flexible? I have found that for most people change can be very uncomfortable, difficult and for many it feels intolerable. For those that experience change on the high end of distressful or intolerable life is very hard to manage. These individuals experience change as so threatening that it can disable them from functioning.

I am assuming that at this point in your life you have all learned that change is inevitable. And yet so many of us seem to resist it. And I am not thinking of only change that you perceive as negative. Change, whether positive or negative can still trigger the same feelings. Change indicates that you are moving from something familiar to something new. Change is an unknown; something unexplored. My hope is to give you some ideas on how to tackle the inevitable changes yet to come in ways that make it more bearable for you.

Reflect and remember are great tools to help ease your fear and worry. Reflect on the many changes that have already occurred in your life. Good and bad. Sometimes it helps to write four or five of these experiences down. Then remember the truth; which is that you did survive! The change didn’t swallow you whole. Reflect on ways you coped with those changes that were helpful and ways that you adjusted that you don’t want to repeat. Highlight what was helpful during those previous changes.

It is also helpful during times of change to focus on what aspects of you and your life are secure and not currently changing. For instance, what is unmoving for you may be that you still have the same partner, pet, family members, sport etc. Remind yourself of the constants in your life. This could be non-tangibles like your sense of humor, your faith, your love of nature. It is important to remind yourself of what you do have some control over during these times of transition.

Since change can be taxing on the body both mentally and physically I strongly recommend you attend to these areas. Ways to help ease and comfort the physical and mental include but are not limited to meditation, yoga, prayer, exercise and talking to supportive people about your worries and fears. It is also important to find time to play and have fun. Allowing your body and mind to have a release and rest is imperative in riding the waves of change as smoothly as possible.