About a year ago, I set an intention for myself...for conscious communication. I have always admired people who don’t necessarily talk a lot, but save their words for truly meaningful dialogue. Unfortunately for anyone who is stuck in close quarters with me for any extended period of time, I come from a long line of long-winded people, and realistically, I will never be the silent type. So, I decided to start with a goal that felt more attainable, that honors who I am while still challenging myself to be the best version of me I can be. I decided to simply try to be more mindful of the ways that I communicate with people.
The process of turning my attention to my communication habits allowed me to notice all sorts of patterns that I hadn’t really been aware of before. For example, I noticed that I frequently drift off mentally while in conversation with others. I start thinking about my day or my life and am no longer really tuned in to the person who is speaking to me. I also noticed that quite often when I am “listening”, I am actually just waiting for my turn to talk, and that when I talk, I am often doing so to fill empty space, to distract myself from uncomfortable feelings, or to seek validation.
All of these things are pretty normal, and I would guess that most of us find ourselves falling into these habits from time to time, but any time I notice a pattern in my life, I like to ask myself some questions. How is this pattern serving me? Is this a pattern that I want to continue? Or, is this a pattern that I learned long ago, but isn’t actually useful anymore?
The simple answer is that, while these patterns may have served me at one time, they no longer achieve the desired effect. The greatest part of communicating with others is the connection that comes from sharing experiences. If I am not actually being present with the person I am communicating with and really listening to what they have to say, then I am missing out on a lot of the gifts that they have to share with me. It is very comforting when friends are willing to be sounding boards as I try to sort through my thoughts and feelings, but talking endlessly about an issue until I sound like a broken record is really only a temporary distraction from actually dealing with whatever is troubling me and doesn’t honor my friends’ time or attention. Also, if I find myself continually seeking validation from others, and the need doesn’t seem to be getting adequately filled, perhaps it is a need that must be filled from within, from quieting my mind and really listening to myself. After all, that voice inside, the one that can so easily be muffled over with endless chatter and mental busy work, may be the most important voice to listen to of all and there is only one person who can actually hear it.
So, my commitment to try to be a better listener continues. I try to listen intently when people are speaking to me. I try to be more conscious of what I am saying and why, and I try to be quiet often enough to hear my inner voice, the greatest guide I have. Some days I find myself succeeding and other days I completely miss the mark, but all I can do is set my intention every day and know that, even if it is only inch by inch, I am moving decidedly in the right direction.
Conscious Ink tattoos were created to remind you to listen, be present, and be the very best you that you can be! Check out the temporary tattoos featured in this article and many more in the Conscious Ink Temporary Tattoo store!
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