Welcome fellow souls to « The Human Family Crash Course Series, » a new project collaborated together by empress2inspire.blog and Sensispirit.wordpress.com. Together we will be working on a different topic for each crash course; our fourth topic is focused on «Relationships.» Each topic will have eight posts with posts on Mondays and Thursdays. We hope you enjoy our series and we look forward to knowing how our posts have inspired you!
Some of us frequently zone out or have our mind wander during conversations. Some space out to the point where they miss what the other person said, and they’re noticeably staring off into the distance. Others can use a section of their mind to follow the interaction and look like they’re listening, but another track in their brain is daydreaming, thinking of things they have to do later, or maybe even beating themselves up over past mistakes.. We all do this from time to time, now is the time to begin spending quality time in your relationships.
Here are some tips to help you zone-in during your interactions with friends and family:
- Intend to focus on the conversation and not let your mind drift off. Your mind may waver a lot during conversations because you’re not trying to do any different. Make a conscious effort to stay focused on the people you’re talking to. If you catch yourself zoning out, switch your attention back to the interaction (without being too hard on yourself, show yourself some love).
- Give yourself something foundational about the conversation to focus on. Tell yourself you’ll pay attention to the speaker’s eyes, facial expression, or tone of voice. Try different things to see if one works best for you. If you notice your thoughts have wandered, bring your attention back to your real world focal point you chose.
- Set aside some time to let your mind wander before a conversation. If you’ve got a heavy mind, and know you have a social event later that day, do some deliberate zoning out beforehand. Lay down or go for a stroll and daydream as much as you want. It may clear some thoughts out of your mental queue and let you be more attentive when you see people later on.
- Do what you can at the time to manage any feelings of social anxiety and insecurity. Anxiety and self-consciousness makes us want to retreat inward. One of the best things you can do for that is make a conscious effort to focus on the present moment and what’s going on outside of you. You can’t get caught up in your worries if you’re really paying attention to what the other person is saying. It can also help to take some slow, deep breaths and intentionally loosen any muscles you’ve been tensing unconsciously.
- Do what you can to raise your energy, if you’re zoning out because you’re feeling mentally drained. Get up and move around, have a snack, do some breathing techniques, have a fruit smoothie. Maybe you could get up and use the bathroom, and give yourself a few minutes alone to recharge your batteries slightly.
- Try not to jump to conclusions about people or what they’re going to say. Resist the temptation to think, “This co-worker always makes the same long-winded complaints about how ungrateful her kids are. I’m going to think about what I want to make for dinner until it’s over.” I’m not saying that if someone has certain conversation habits that they’ll always surprise you, but that you can’t be sure.
- If you’re zoning out because you’re losing interest in the conversation, do what you can to make it more interesting. If a discussion is boring you, don’t be too quick to passively resign yourself to it and mentally check out. Maybe you can change the topic. Or if you’re listening to someone, you could inject your own opinions, so the conversation becomes more or a back and forth. If you’re having coffee with friends and everyone is losing steam, suggest getting up and going somewhere else to change the environment.
- Try to put your spare mental energy into attending to other aspects of the conversation. If you can follow what everyone’s saying fairly easily, and that’s not enough to capture your full attention, try attending to things like analyzing their facial expressions or body language, or trying to figure out how what they’re talking about might make them feel. If someone is telling you about their problems, put all your effort into being the best listener you can be.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” ~ Anais Nin, The Diary