Do you sometimes feel you are the type of person others seem to want to tell their problems to? I was talking to a friend the other day who was telling me how exhausted she was feeling when put in that position.
Out of a sense of friendship it's so tempting to offer what you think are solutions or a course of action to help when a friend asks "What am I going to do?" But I've realised a couple of things happen when you do that......
Firstly, they who ask may feel obligated or even pressured to take your advice; and secondly you can end up feeling the need to "check up" on them, because you've positioned yourself to become responsible for their happiness. It really changes the nature of any friendship you have with them. It can almost feel awkward in any future meetings you have with each other. And that's certainly what she had noticed.
And I personally believe it's not really possible to know another person well enough to assume what would be "best" for them. Just one small, seemingly insignificant aspect of their personality or lifestyle can make what may be "perfect" advice for yourself, quite useless or damaging for another person.
But in my profession as a Remedial Therapist, clients sometimes talk about their worries or concerns within their lives. As muscles relax, and the nervous system corrects within their bodies this can happen. The confidentiality of the client-therapist relationship often allows people to feel comfortable to voice feelings they may have "bottled up." But it would be completely inappropriate and unprofessional for me to give them any direction or advice at all, other than that which would support the bodywork treatment they are paying me for. I am not trained to support their emotional health. I've certainly referred people to Counsellors at times. But yet, in the midst of their treatment, I think I would seem (and feel) harsh to just ignore people at these times, "cut them off," or change the subject.
So I've learnt to just listen while continuing with the treatment, without giving any direction whatsoever. There are loads of books written about how to listen "actively." Active listening is a very simple concept really. But it's not always easy to achieve. It involves listening while another talks, waiting for them to finish speaking, and then reflecting back to them the "feelings" you observe they seem to have, about the matter they are feeling emotional about. It really is just acting like a mirror for them.
An example might be when someone is talking negatively about how they are feeling within a relationship they are in. "You sound really upset about that," or " I'm so sorry to hear about that" allow me to convey that I am listening, that they can talk, and that I validate their right to those feelings. We all appreciate validation. And I don't think that's the same as saying how they feel is right (or wrong), but just that it's valid for them to be feeling whatever they feel.
I've noticed it is often more useful to just listen as a friend or client "vents" without offering advice or direction. But using reflection by saying " You sound....", "Am I right in noticing you're feeling......?", "So what you're saying is...."
Because no one becomes responsible to another for giving or taking advice.
And, in this way, I've "listened" to people come to their own useful solutions that very specifically suit their life and their needs, without my "interference."
Sunday, 10 March 2013
I had the opportunity to speak to a group of Bank employees on this very special day of celebration.
Just thought I'd put a transcript of the talk on the Blog.
Just thought I'd put a transcript of the talk on the Blog.
International Womens’ Day Talk
Good Morning all, and many thanks, Jodie for inviting me along to speak today.
It is a privilege to speak on such a special day. I thought to introduce myself, I would tell you a little about myself………so you might notice anything we may have in common. We all have connections.
- Born in the 1960’s
- Completed University and Married in the 1980’s and still married to the same lovely fellow
- Mum of 3 amazing people- all adults now
- Retrained to complete a Dip. of Massage in the 1990’s
- I am currently a Remedial massage therapist and over the last 15 years I have built, managed and worked in our business, HBM- these days with 5 other therapists
- I do some workplace training in the area of work/life balance- Stress Management workshops, I have facilitated a few women’s retreats over the years
- A few years ago I wrote and self published a little book of simple concepts to offer people to reduce the stress in their existences- based on ideas I talk with my clients about and wrote it as a response to “What do you do to find peace and reduce stress in your life?
- “Finding Peace”
- I blog on our website in an attempt to put some positivity out in the world
- I’m excited to have Just completed (7) years of part time study to now be qualified as a Practitioner of Ortho-bionomy ( gentle effective form of Osteopathy) – so I’m excited because I know that is really going to change the nature of my interactions with clients, from a treatment perspective
- my favourite colour is purple, I am a massive Bon Jovi fan, really enjoy gothic horror and fantasy books and movies, and I’m really passionate about living as healthily as I can by eating organically and limiting toxins in my immediate world – so a bit of a hippy too
- and, fortunately because I deal with them one on one each day, I love people- their diversity- I respect the differences in the ways people think and go about their lives. I don’t always understand the choices people make, but I respect them because they are choices made based on their life experience (not mine) and regardless you can always learn something from how another person looks at life.
- When Jodie phoned and asked me to talk today I asked her “why me?” and she said she thought I was a successful business woman and that she wanted me to talk about my road to that success …. To perhaps offer a little inspiration to Women on IWD.
- I feel I can say I am successful in my life- not because of any monetary or financial issues, but because I have been able to achieve my goals and dreams, while maintaining a sense of peace and happiness in my all aspects of my life. That is what I deem as a successful path J
- So I began to wonder what I could share with you, as to how I’ve achieved that “success” and not ramble on longer than 20 mins? And in thinking about my life I acknowledge there was a turning point when I learned one great skill that I feel is the “Master Key”
- … I learned how to “Live in the Moment”
- Let me explain …
Like many, probably all, women I juggle a bunch of roles- mum, wife, technician, manager, community worker, friend, collegue, student,…….. this can lead to lots of stress…….
About 18 years ago I read an article about a condition named “ Hurried Woman Syndrome”……
This referred to the way women are often doing one task while already planning another or thinking / debriefing about a previous task…..it leaves one with a sense of ‘hurry” and it’s pretty stressful! The article went on to explain this creates an imbalance between the mind and the body because they are in to different “tenses”……….out of “sync” with each other, and this causes an ongoing stress response. Living this way means our bodies are exposed to the stress hormones adrenaline and Cortisol for long periods of time. This can suppress the immune system! We get sicker, more often, and remain sick for longer.
At the time I read that article I was an Australian Breastfeeding phone counsellor, group leader, mother of 3 small children, secretary of the kindy committee and “Hurried Woman Syndrome” just seemed to describe ME to a tee! And I did seem to travel with a sense of stress quite often! And yet I thought I was so cleverly multi-tasking! On reading the article something just shifted in me……it struck a “tight” cord.
So I began to work on thinking less about the past or the future and focusing on the moment right in front of me….right in the present. I had dabbled in meditation in my pre-children years – but never managed to achieve the outcome I thought I “should” have. So I decided to get some books and revisit it when I could. But mainly I just determined to give my full attention to the task I was living right in the present moment, if my mind drifted to past or future events I just brought it back.
At first I practised for just 15-30 minutes a day- just completing one task this way. Progress was slow but the reward was good- full attention to a task was much less stressful, my mind felt less cluttered, I began to notice how calm I was feeling, and I’m pretty sure my family liked me, and the attention they received, a lot more! My interactions with everyone felt much nicer. I recall enjoying taking time reading, and playing with my children and noticing every aspect of our surroundings- the pictures in the books, their laughter, how the pages felt in the books, the textures of their skin as they leaned in to the story…. My Husband noticed more listening in conversation; with friends/ colleagues I became more attentive…………everyone enjoys being paid some attention. It began to seem like every aspect of my life was enhanced. And it encouraged me in my progress. And I felt much less “hurried.”
So, I know it sounds too simple, but when you focus on one task at a time… complete it, notice it as you are touching, tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing each applicable aspect of it, you do it well and with less stress than juggling thoughts of the next task.
You feel calmer, so enjoy life more, notice things about people that may otherwise be overlooked (which leads to more respect for others and this is then returned!), and you notice opportunities you might otherwise miss (business and personal).
If you like the ideas of “living in the moment” start slowly, just try practising it for 15 minutes a day at first.
I still get “scattered” sometimes (we are human and our minds wander!) so I just mentally pull my attention in to the moment and space I am in.
And when others try to hurry me, I notice and calmly say “I just need to finish what I’m doing (and I name it) first.”
So, with living in the present moment in mind…. I’d like to leave you with George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote: “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” (Just like “living in the moment!)
But that is not the end of it as many think….George went on to add ….” But take courage, it can be delightful”
I think living in the present moment lets me notice each “delight” along the way.