The Focus On You

*Motivational & Self-Care Blog*

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What Do We Miss When We Stop Listening?

Lately, I’ve been hooked on a new series on Netflix called “13 Reasons Why.” The story is told from the point of view of a teenage girl who dies by suicide.  13 Reasons Why features flashbacks from her past year in high school and all the hardships she faced prior to her death.

This show made me think about what happens when we don’t listen. Listening skills are not just based on verbal cues. What verbal and non-verbal cues do we miss when we don’t listen?

  • When pains in our body may be signaling us to a serious problem.
  • People’s facial expressions when we ignore them to look at our phone.
  • When we dismiss our dangerous behaviors even though someone we love becomes injured doing the same thing (distracted driving, alcohol intoxication, physical violence, ignoring medical treatment, unsafe sex)
  • When we lose a loved one and in hindsight, remember all the lessons they gave us.
  • When a loved one, friend or child averts eye contact and says “nevermind.”
  • Forgetting important dates because we quickly said “yes” before understanding what we agreed to.
  • Being unaware of our surroundings due to earbuds, scrolling social media and other technological distractions.
  • Being unaware of signs of illness in our loved ones or animals.

As a therapist, I have to be in tune with my clients when they enter my space. Did you know that crossing your arms is a non-verbal sign that says “I’m defensive and probably judging you?” I never cross my arms in session. I cannot appear “blocked” to whatever they’re expressing. I noticed that when I’m off work I cross my arms a lot (because I’m truly OFF DUTY).

What are other non-verbal cues to show you’re “actively listening?”

  • Leaning in towards the person speaking
  • Facing the person speaking
  • Making eye contact

In 13 Reasons Why, the main character, Hannah, tells a male classmate, “Here’s the thing. You’ve never been a girl.” As the world demands that our leaders LISTEN to our voices, their failure to pay attention is costing us our lives. Black Lives Matter wants people to LISTEN and take action. People young and old are YELLING for leaders to understand the impact of stripping away our health care. In hindsight, the characters in this show, realize where they weren’t listening to Hannah and appear remorseful for not being a better friend.

There is power in numbers.

The number of people who will listen to us when we need help.

The number of people calling their elected officials demanding that their rights be protected.

The number of parents who petition for change in their childrens’ schools.

There is power in numbers and power in our voice. If we’re being ignored, politely ask for someone’s attention. Find a way to get their attention. Your doctor, a 2nd opinion doctor, your boss, HR, your teenager, the principal, etc.

What happens when we stop listening?

I’m afraid to find out.

Let’s remember to reconnect, to stay in tune with our bodies and keep an eye on the ones we love. It’s hard to ask for help. Open up that conversation with someone and just listen.

Here are a few statements you can use to show someone you are truly listening

(tip: this is good for supervisors and parents)

“I’m on your side.”

“You’re making total sense.”

“I’m sorry you have to go through all of that.”

“I understand why you feel that way.”

“Wow that must have been frustrating.”

Please share this post with any loved ones or colleagues. Active listening is important in our families and workplaces. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of harming themselves, please use the following resources for assistance.

listening

 

 

listening

3 Signs That Your Routine Is Sabotaging Your Life

Have you ever felt uncomfortable switching up your daily routine?

When I work with clients living with mental illness, setting up a realistic and healthy routine is important. Many parents live by routines to help teach their kids responsibility. Personally, I live and die by the clock. My client sessions are 50 mins long and I even schedule my blog work by the hour.

Productivity experts would vouch for setting up a routine, but let’s look at these routine errors that could be silently sabotaging your life.

Your Routine Doesn’t Include Self-Care

The common complaint I hear as a self-care blogger is, “I don’t have time for self-care.” You don’t have time because you don’t make time. If you automatically shut it down, you have assigned a negative label to it. Did you know that self-care consists of that paid hour lunch you receive? Self-care can occur on your way to work, while you’re in the shower and while you’re doing the normal things you already dread doing. One of my Pinterest boards includes a shower meditation, where you can envision washing off whatever you need to release for that day. On weekends I play music in the shower to signify a shift from the sleepy Monday-Friday showers. If your routine involves eating lunch at your desk, I would suggest taking your lunch elsewhere. You may surprisingly feel refreshed and ready to conquer the 2nd half of your day!

Your Routine Involves Too Much Multi-Tasking

I sometimes amaze myself at how much housework I can tackle all at once. Does it leave me exhausted at the end? Absolutely! I’m not suggesting taking away the multi-tasking but try to place a limit on it. When I feel overwhelmed between errands, housework and my blog schedule I use the Pomodoro technique. This is also a good tip for anyone with chronic pain. I break my tasks into hourly segments. I sit and blog for one hour. Then I take a break by completing housework for 30 min or 1 hour (depending on how my chronic pain is acting). I dread looking at an action list that involves a mix of all 3 responsibilities. When I break these tasks into hour or 30 min. segments, the tasks feel more realistic. Plus, this gives me a break from sitting or cleaning too long. These active breaks also help my creativity and allow me to put my work to sleep for a minute. Is anyone else a fan of the Pomodoro technique?

Your Routine Doesn’t Include The Important People In Your Life

How often do you get to text or chat with your best friends?

When was the last time you visited with family members or friends who are out of town? If our weekly schedules don’t include time for connections, what are we working so hard for? Click To Tweet Do we feel bad on the holidays because we don’t have the money to visit family members? Could we start saving money or vacation time at work for the holiday we really want? Weekly (and sometimes daily) group texts with my best friends in California are a life saver for me. We even have a Snapchat group list so we can send life updates or encouraging messages to each other.

(Recommended reading: Are You A Bad Friend?)

Personal connections can get lost in our daily hustle. Relationships take work. Our supportive people in our life can ground us, distract us from our daily struggles and remind us of our importance in their lives. Spending time with friends or loved ones (without drama or codependency) can help reduce burnout as well. If work/school/career is burning you out, you need that distraction, encouragement, laughter and connection with others.

Our lives can easily get controlled by the necessity to work, make more money and do that next thing. Auto-pilot is dangerous. Maybe your daughter is tired of playing that same sport every year. Who says you have to run that weekend program or coach that team again? If you keep signing up for the same responsibility with a tinge of resentment, that’s telling you something.

Spending quality time with quality people and adding self-care can only bring necessary benefits to your life. They shouldn’t be withdrawing from your valuable time but depositing instead.

Put the control back into your life, replace dreadful activities with elements of self-care and bring back that sense of belonging!

How has your routine sabotaged your life?

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