Private Coaching with Lauren Shepherd

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The Wheel is Spinning, but the Hamster's Dead...

Posted on 24 November, 2016 at 11:00

Whoever coined that phrase was pure genius... seriously... because it explicitly describes exactly what we, humans, all of us fallible, DO when we listen to people talking...


We totally zone out - I'm one hundred percent susceptible to it as well... Have you ever noticed that when someone else is talking your mind is actually thinking about a million and one ways that you can interrupt them? You're already imagining out the scenarios this conversation will take, and you've completely lost track of it's actual trajectory.


You've stopped listening.


I do it all the time. And I'm sure it's super frustrating for my family and friends. I don't think anyone is immune... in the theatre it's SO important to be actively listening to your scene partner so that you can fully react... in real life, we totally forget... we get caught up in the voices in our heads...


And don't think for one second you don't have voices - we all have them, nagging at us constantly...


SO how does all this relate to fitness and health? Well personally I think that health and wellness has just as much to do with your interpersonal skills, and your inner peace, as it does your nutrition and exercise. I don't think you can be fit in all senses of the word if you aren't taking care of your basic needs and the basic needs of those around you...


And one of those needs has to do with communication and interaction.


If communication is entirely one sided, either you speaking at your partner or they at you - then neither person is relieved or relaxed at the end of the "interchange" - if you can even call it an interchange. When only one person is communicating and the other is looking for ways to contribute rather than actually listening that's the moment that the wheel is spinning and that dear old hamster is dead...


Your thoughts and ideas are spinning out of control, but the hamster of hearing - the little creature that does all the active listening is just flopping around and around...


And I'll bet this carries over into other aspects of your life... you just go through the motions... you mindlessly stumble through your day, your interactions with others, your workouts...


If this sounds like you - raise your hands with me and give yourself a little wakeup shake! It's time to think about how mindless we actually are in our daily lives.


When was the last time you actually HEARD what your husband/wife/partner said their day was like? When was the last time you responded to THAT?


When was the last time you listened to all of the instructions before planning how to execute a task at work?


What about when learning new equipment at the gym, or trying a new routine?


When was the last time you just listened to music?


Chances are we can sort of answer this questions, but with very little clarity or confidence... and so if that's you - there are things you can totally do to find that mindful side of yourself, that active listener...


So how do you stay ALIVE during a conversation? How do you listen without jumping in and changing the topic?


One trick is to practice, especially with someone close to you - sit down for a few moments and have them just talk about their day or a predetermined topic for 2-5 minutes without you saying a word. Set a timer. And don't say anything, just listen.


When you feel your brain wandering, notice that, save the information for later, and refocus on the person in front of you.


Try to maintain soft focus eye contact, this will help them feel your engagement, and it will also help you maintain interest. You may also find that closing your eyes while listening can help you focus on their words and not your distracted mind.


Most importantly don't judge yourself for the moments when your mind does wander!!!


How can you carry this over into your daily life?


Start checking in to moments - when you're working out, just take a moment and check in, see if you're actually listening to your body, or your instructions versus your mind which is telling you you can't go on. You have the power to listen to your body over your mind, but usually we fill our head with "I CAN'T" do something and so our body listens... why not try listening the other way...


What about when you're cooking dinner? Can you stop and listen to the hustle and bustle in your kitchen? Are there other people around? What are they doing? What sounds is your cooking food making? Why not open up other senses? What's the aroma? What does that energy feel like? When you do speak, how does the tone of voice you use sound?


Over dinner - truly listen to the conversation. Perhaps by making a small rule that the person speaking is not to be interrupted. This way we teach great listening skills through practice to our families...


The ULTIMATE goal? To be able to respond to the speaker in a way that progresses the conversation because you understand what THEIR goal/subject was. If you can reiterate it as part of your initial contribution to the conversation that's even better because your partner will feel validated and heard.


WARNING - this may cause you to have much more in depth conversations taking you further and further away from "small talk", and while that may be uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, eventually it will become so much more rewarding because you'll be getting to really know the people that you love and care about. Heck you can even try it with people you've just met to find a deeper connection!


Everyone, I don't care how shy or anxious, given the right topic, and the right circumstances could seriously talk the hind legs off a donkey...


So help them out and be a tender ear. Happy Listening!!!


Send me a message or comment if you'd like more insight or have questions!

Categories: Thoughts & Mindfulness, Fitness & Health

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