Being 37.5 weeks pregnant means I am not as mobile as I used to be — which means I am reading a bit more on the weekends. Since I have not gone for a run in 3 months (so hard for me) – it meant my reading had slowed down. We have filled our days and nights with planning and prepping for this baby boy to join us, but these last few weekends I have been reading more.
“First, we need to understand the power of conditioning. The following demonstration will make the point.
Right now, wherever you are sitting, lift your right foot a few inches off the ground and then start moving it in a clockwise circle. At the same time as you’re doing that, raise your right hand and draw a number six in the air.
What happened? Your right foot switched directions, didn’t it? Try it again. The reversal will happen every time!” page 4
Frustrated? Did it happen for you or were you able to get past it? It got me interested enough to keep reading (even though I skipped a lot of exercises). The real nugget I wanted to share was:
“Our energy follows our attention, always.” Page 69
It is true is it not? What we focus on we absorb. What we absorb, we ingest. What we ingest impacts our energy, our mood, our body language, and often what comes out of our mouth. Chris and I often talk about the energy we allow into our home. I think about it at work and with friends. We have a choice on what we focus on, what we attend to, and if we redirect — we might actually have a happier and more “energetic” life.
I heard someone say this yesterday: “I got swagger.” I thought to myself: “I got swagger, maybe not today, but I got swagger.” Yesterday was a strange day. I felt an array of emotions, from anger, frustration, to laughter, sass, and yes swagger.
How do we keep our swagger? I think of all the people who I have looked up to in my life. Those that have inspired me, made my jaw drop, or just had me often say: Wow. They are the people who make us think differently. A professor in college had swagger. She had a way of making you enamored with her. You wanted her opinion, craved her attention, and missed her when she was not around. She had swagger.
My niece has swagger. I have been watching kids on and off since I was nine. From all the kids I have taken care of, to the 6 week old and up children I took care of at a day care during college, to my friend’s kids, my niece has got it. Of course I am biased, how can I not be, but that kid lights up a room, makes you laugh, and has something very special about her. I mean look at this photo. (She is the blond at the back of the circle of girls that all want to dote on her.) Swagger.
My husband has swagger. I cannot handle frustrating customer service situations. I have lived in that world too long, that when I have a shitty experience I go volatile and cannot handle the fact that I get sub-par service. He handles it with poise, firmness, and patience. That man has swagger.
A friend is going through a hard time in her marriage. She is working it through in her way. She is so selfless at work and with her child. She makes us all laugh, keeps it real, and tells it like it is. She has swagger.
I tell it like it is almost always (I do have a tiny filter when really needed). I suck the life out of my day. I love people, helping them, listening, and doing what I can to be there for them. I am a bit sassy. I got swagger.
An hour of my day yesterday has inspired and led me to a few aha moments. I had the opportunity to spend an hour learning more about listening. Zalika Gardner, from Portland recently gave a talk at TEDxPortland. There are a few ideas that continue to cycle through my head since yesterday from her talk:
1. A baby cries because they want attention. Our social norm is that we do not continue to express those cries as we grow up, but the desire to want attention does not go away just because we get older.
2. How we listen to someone else shows them whether we think they matter or not.
3. Not feeling heard = not feeling loved. Feeling heard = feeling loved.
One of my biggest pet peeves is not feeling heard. Chris knows how much it matters to me. My not so nice side comes out when I do not feel heard. When I do not feel heard it is like opening a box of memories of all the times growing up when my father would tell me that children should be seen and not heard. Today I have two reactions to not feeling heard. I grow quiet, or I lash out. It really depends on who makes me feel that way. Usually if it is someone I am very close to (my sister or Chris) I lash out. I feel comfortable being my true self. When it is someone who is not as close to me, I grow quiet. I wonder if feeling safe and feeling heard equate to how someone reacts.
Her talk also made me think about how much we are consumed with our smartphones. How often they distract us. That text message that popped up on your phone may just be more important and more urgent than the person sitting right in front of you. I know I can do better to make sure I am completely focused on the individual who has my time and attention. I can listen more, I can focus more. While it definitely takes more of my time and energy, it is worth it to me to give others what I so strongly want for myself. Hopefully it means more of us (adults and children) feel more valued, heard, and loved.
Please watch the entire twenty minutes. I promise it is worth your time.
A colleague of mine always says: “You have two ears and one mouth. Listen more, talk less.” I agree.
We all want to be and feel heard. Right? Is that so much to ask? If that is what you want, then I ask you, are you a good listener? How often do you truly listen? You know what I mean. The times when you are already thinking about what you want to say next. How often do you focus on the needs, words, and emotions of the other individual(s) in the conversation?
Listening. It is an idea that continues to loop in my thought. Whether it is that quiet voice inside my head that tells me to slow down and listen more, or the voice that wants me to scream to someone else: “Stop. Slow down and just listen to me!” We see it all the time. The mom that is going too fast and has too much happening that she forgets to really look into her child’s eyes and listen to what they have to say. Or the dad that has a child that never stops talking, do you think he sometimes stops listening? The co-worker, boss, or employee that like to talk, but do not return the favor and actively listen to you.
It is tough. You have to stop all the interconnected wires in your head, the questions you might need to ask, the tasks you might need to accomplish, and just be present for the other individual(s). When we do it, when we truly are present and actively listening the other individual knows it. They feel it, see it, and appreciate it. (Well we hope they do). It might not be obvious, but listening is a win-win situation. You learn more about others and yourself.
I had an ah-ha moment yesterday. During a conversation at work, I stopped my head from going fast and I really focused and listened. Instead of letting what was on my mind spew out of my mouth, I focused first. When I really listened I found good questions came to the surface. Questions that hopefully helped the person I was talking to get to the answers they needed. It is better to listen, engage, and ask questions, rather than listen and tell someone just what you think they should do. Let them figure it out for themselves.
My goal is to try to listen more each day. Even if it is one conversation, then two, then three a day. I know the moment I am present. I know when I am consciously listening. You will too. Try it, and let me know if you notice a difference.
I recently found this great blog: The heART of Living by Emily. I cannot even remember how I came across it. She inspired me last week, and I want to share a quote from her blog post, in hopes that passing on her inspiration will help you as it did me:
“Our realities are shaped around where we place our attention. If we focus on negativity, then our life situations will reflect negativity. If we focus on qualities and behaviors that we would like to invite into our lives, then our life situations will eventually shift to reflect that reality. The difficulty is that often times we are unaware of what we’re focused on. Usually we’re unconsciously repeating habitual tendencies and patterns of thought that have been formed by the way we were raised and our life experiences. By practicing awareness on the yoga mat, in our interactions with others, or by simply observing our own thoughts and emotions, we start to realize where and how we place our attention.”
Recently I have felt bogged down by a few things that have not shifted or changed in my life. I find that in that struggle I can go the route of being negative, and dreading the outcome if things do not shift. I forget that focusing on the negative, or as some might call, the glass half empty, then that is the energy I am inviting into my life and experience. At times I am very aware of my negativity and at other times, I am completely oblivious.
What I need to do is focus on the good going on around me, and not focus on what has not happened. I actually really enjoy focusing on gratitude and appreciating the experience I am in, but there are times when I fear that the choices I have made are having a negative effect on other events in my life. If I move away from fear, and stay in the present, then I cannot get sucked into the negativity. The hope is that by staying in the present, my attention will go to what is happening right now. Where I spend my time, the event, activity, and individuals I am spending my time with will then find me with a glass half full. What we focus on is what we bring into our experience. Even on those rough days, we can take a break, take a breath, and remember to bring a half full, (or hey how about full) glass to the table. When it is full, there is more goodness to share!