Attention and intention

Full of life, banish loneliness, be a good listener

Is this the face of a good listener? Would you like to have her as a friend to talk to?

One crucial thing to understand is the way we connect with others. It’s not enough to be in the same place as other people. You can be in a crowded room, a busy station, a park full of people, even in bed with your spouse… and still feel lonely. In fact, it can feel much worse – to be close to others but be shut out, shut off from them, invisible. Sometimes you feel that even if you yelled and screamed, no-one would hear you.

Sometimes even if you’re in the middle of a conversation, you can feel that your companion has drifted off, distracted by something else or just daydreaming. They’re not listening to you any more, and when you prod them, they are startled as they pull their attention back to you.

“Sorry, I was miles away…”

Not very flattering, is it? Is what you were saying so boring?

Who knows what was going on in their head. Maybe they were terribly worried and couldn’t concentrate. Maybe they saw something fascinating over your shoulder. Maybe they’re exhausted after a hellish day. Maybe they’re shallow and selfish and need a slap…

Ignore that last bit – it’s how it makes us feel but it’s almost certainly not fair.

We’ve all had it happen to us… but have you ever been guilty of it? Not listening, not keeping your attention focused on what someone is telling you?

Being a good listener is a great way to connect: here are seven points of a listener.

banish loneliness, be full of life

Are they listening? Are they people you’d want as friends for their kindness and empathy?

1. Keep eye contact as much as possible; keep your eyes on the speaker’s face, at least.

2. Listen with all your senses – more is said with body language and tone of voice than with words.

3. Don’t interrupt. Don’t argue. Ask questions to get clarity, not to interrogate.

4. Stay close but not too close – don’t invade the speaker’s personal space unless invited.

5. Let your body show your interest; lean forward just a little, don’t fidget, but nod your head to indicate you hear them and understand.

6. Listen with empathy. Don’t criticise, and don’t judge – not even in your head.

7. Be kind. The speaker will feel your kind intention.

Do you know how it feels to have a good listener to talk to? 

Are you a good listener?

 

A big hug, a light touch

The best medicine

Hugs are supposed to be great. The best hugs are great. But are we too scared to give each other proper, heartfelt hugs?

How do you like yours?

I like huggers who hug gently but completely. A hug of kindness, from top to toe, long enough for the kindness to sink in. A gift of a hug, that gives energy and kindness and doesn’t take. A hug that doesn’t hurt or strangle. A hug that leaves me tingling with life. A hug I want to repeat…

A hug should be two-way, that gives and receives at the same time.

But a return hug should be received, not taken. Do you get the difference? Receiving the love or kindness from your hugger is allowing them to give; taking  from your hugger is a bit like a vampire sucking the life out of a victim.

‘Give me a hug’ is the cry of a needy person. “Let me give you a hug” is the offer of a generous soul.

Heartfelt hugs are life-affirming, kind and loving

The best hugs feel safe and warm, gentle but firm, kind, giving, open, no-strings, head to toe, wholehearted and heart-felt. The best hugs are  life-affirming, reviving, reassuring, generous, sharing, unconditional kindness.

Who’s your favourite hugger?

Who can you hug right now?

See yourself as others see you?

Peacock (Pavo cristatus), displaying his tail,...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

beauty, ugly, beautiful, ugliness, peacock, plumage, rich, colourful, lonely, loneliness, full of life, full of joy, happiness

I met a girl the other day who is, by European norms, a pretty woman of 20. She is at university, with a good career ahead of her. She’s clever, sweet, kind, lively and attractive. She’s going out with a man who is darkly jealous, feckless and mean-spirited. She knows what he’s like, and she wants to dump him, but she’s scared that no-one else will want her. She thinks she’s fat (compared to contemporaries who are skeletal). The prospect of being on the shelf, in her culture, is horrific, even at the expense of an unhappy married life.

So she defies her parents (who detest the boyfriend) and puts up with the boyfriend’s horrible behaviour because she thinks he’s the best she can expect.

She’s not alone – how many young men and woman set themselves up for years of unhappiness and loneliness in much the same way?

What is it about our society that we bring our children up to feel unlovable? Can family influence outweigh the media brainwashing? What do we need to do to stop the growth of loneliness in our families and friends?