Last year around this time, I wrote about setting a positive intention for the holiday season. Everything in life is a choice, even during the holiday season. The bottom line of that message for the holidays was this: a life of “have-to’s” creates more stress, overwhelm and discontent. I challenged my readers to swap out the “have-to’s” on their holiday to-do list with “want-to’s.”
I was thrilled with the results of this challenge. Several readers wrote me saying that instead of moving through the holiday season reacting to the world around them, they were able to set an intention to create the holiday season they wanted. From one reader:
“This post changed my Christmas experience! I didn’t use my sterling silver OR my good Bermuda linens!”
They created more:
… and less:
They felt happier and had a better holiday season as a result!
This Year’s Holiday Life Coaching Challenge: Practice My “7 Ways to Listen”
I’ve written about gratitude in the past, but I’ve discovered that most of us get it utterly wrong. More often than not, human beings are a bit egocentric by nature. We have a tendency to think and talk about ourselves even when we should be thinking and talking about others.
“Being listened to is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” ― David Augsburger
As we approach Thanksgiving, a time when we focus on gratitude, ask yourself: what are you thankful for – and what are you really craving?
Time with your children or grandchildren? Time in nature? Time to yourself, to just unplug and relax?
I believe that when we dig deeper, what we’re all craving is connection – to nature, to those we love, even to ourselves. This is rooted in living in the present moment, and practicing gratitude. How can we then mindfully create the world we want to live in this holiday season, one full of this type of connection?
The Life Coach Says: “I’m Listening.”
I used this phrase with a client recently, who was going through a rough patch. She quickly told me that it was the most powerful thing she’d heard in a while.
As a Life Coach, it’s my job to listen. But I believe that especially during the holidays, if we learn to listen first, we can truly revolutionize all of our relationships – even our relationship with ourselves. As the old adage goes, that’s why we have two ears … and one mouth. So we can listen twice as much as we speak.
Here are my top 7 mindful listening practices you can start using this holiday season to help transform your conversations:
1. Put your brain in gear before putting your mouth in motion. Instead of thinking through your response when someone else is talking, take your time. Focus on the other person’s words and what they’re actually saying. When it’s your turn to speak, mindfully pause and let the words come to you.
2. Be present. We may think we can predict exactly what someone else will say, especially if we know them well, so our minds wander. To pull yourself out of this habit (no matter how repetitive you think the conversation is!), practice mindfulness by focusing on the words that are being said at the present moment. You will almost certainly begin to hear things you’ve never heard before.
3. Listen without prejudice. Try to catch yourself labeling the other person’s words, or putting them into a category in your mind. Observe the words without putting a judgment on the words.
4. Let go of agenda. Many successful people have been trained to focus on the outcome of every interaction. They may get what they want in business, but often “check out” when speaking to a friend, spouse or loved one. The result: lots of hurt feelings when the other person’s needs, hopes or wishes aren’t heard. To listen mindfully, you’ll need to let go of having an end result. Let yourself simply “be” in the conversation. I predict that not only will you begin to enjoy the conversation more, but you’ll probably get more out of it, too.
5. Prompt yourself to continue to be mindful with your speech. Summarizing the other person’s words (“here’s what I hear you saying,”) and asking for permission to respond (“I’ve formed some views based on what you said. Would you like me to share them?”) are great ways to remind yourself that you are actively, mindfully listening. For more tips on how to mindfully listen to others, read my previous post, “Revolutionize Your Conversations With Mindful Listening.”
6. Listen to nature. Look around you. Notice what the birds and beasts are doing. I’ve noticed my (dog? cat? Do you have an animal?) for one is taking more time to rest. Shorter days and longer nights are nature’s signal to all of us to go easier on ourselves in preparation for the colder days ahead. We all have the ability to tune into our own circadian rhythms and take more time for self-care and rest, even when the world around us is pushing us to go faster and harder this holiday season.
7. Listen to yourself. Just as each day unfolds from dawn to dusk, so does our full life span. As we move through the seasons of our lives, if we really listen we will observe that each phase offers opportunities to grow in character, compassion, understanding, and self-awareness. Taking a private moment to mindfully listen to yourself is just as important as listening to other people when they speak. At first, when you are quiet, you might hear that constant voice inside your head, telling you all the things you should worry about, predicting all the ways you’ll fail, telling you all your perceived strengths and weaknesses. But as you delve deeper, you will discover that this is not you at all. When you’re able to turn down the volume of that false self-talk and tune into the still small voice of awareness or intuition, you’ll begin to operate from a place of more precision and joy. This is the place from which you can begin to tune into who you really are, what you really want, and swap out the “have-to’s” on your holiday to-do list with “want-to’s.”
The Life Coach’s Holiday Challenge to You
Implement these 7 tips this holiday season – I would love to hear what happens! My prediction: you will become more likable, friendly and better able learn from every conversation you have – and you’ll also enjoy your own company a whole lot more!
Need an ally in this work? Schedule your free initial Life Coaching consultation today. We’ll
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