Whatever you are struggling with in your relationships, if you can introduce THIS practice, I guarantee it will make a difference. This is one of the foundational practices we teach in Listening School which is starting in a couple of weeks (more info on Listening School below).
You can do this practice together with the other person, or (and this is the beauty of it) you can do it stealthily, without saying anything or telling the other person you are doing it. They will feel it. Things will shift.
You can do this to keep a good relationship going well, or to inject some new energy into a stuck or conflict situation.
Once you’ve mastered this practice, perhaps by practicing with a good friend (you can take turns) you can leverage this technique “on the fly”.
So great for eg a customer service scenario where you’ve got a grumpy human in front of you or on the end of the phone. It’s fab for tackling tricky children (works wonders with my oh-so-tough-but-not-really pre-teen). Great for dissolving rolling dissatisfaction with colleagues and other folks you rub up against regularly.
You DO need to be in a reasonably re-sourced (ie feeling good) space to do this. I’ll be writing about what to do when you can’t pull this out of the bag, at a later point.
But I’m starting with this practice because its very very simple, incredibly powerful, and doing it is like an inoculation against relational stress.
SO, here goes, your 60 second practice to transform your relationships!
- Find a good feeling: think about a place or person you really love, or a memory that gives you the warm fuzzies. Get filled up on this good feeling.
2. Take 60 seconds, check your watch or set a timer if you like.
3. You can sit down with this person and ask them to receive your loving attention. OR you can simply be in the same space as them, and quietly do this without telling them.
4. Focus your full attention on the person you’re dealing with, and notice how GOOD they are. This person is gorgeous. They are doing their best at life, despite difficult circumstances.
5. If you’re struggling with this person, you’re going to put all that aside, just for this 60 seconds (you can always come back to that stuff later.)
6. You can smile. You can take delight in them. You don’t have to say anything.
7. Keep noticing all the things that you appreciate about this person. If you don’t know them, it can be something like the colour of their eyes (most humans have nice irises).
8. Notice any shifts that happen in your body, your breathing etc.
9. If you’ve been arguing, notice how this changes your relationship with the argument.
10. When the time is up, simply withdraw your attention, and continue with what you were doing.
Why does this work?
We are wired to CONNECT. Humans are GROUP animals. Conflict is actually a direct threat to our survival. Our bodies reward us for behaving in connected ways (like the exercise above) by releasing oxytocin, which makes us feel good, and encourages us to connect more. When we have oxytocin in our system, we are less combative and more collaborative.
BUT where the magic comes in is something called Mirror Neurons: this stuff is infectious. If YOU can start generating a loving internal state, this will be transferred to the person you are giving your attention to. They will FEEL it – even if they don’t show it.
How will this transform your relationships? Because, over time, this practice will relieve the tension in your relationship and build connection, collaboration and warmth – in BOTH directions.
Try this for a week with one relationship you are struggling with, and let us know in the comments how it goes.
This is one of the foundational practices of Listening School. This is a radical new intervention for managing stress, improving relationships, building community and helping you think and do at your best. If life is feeling more struggle than heartsong, it might be that you don’t need to take that sabbatical, sign up for years of therapy, book an expensive meditation retreat, leave your job, get a divorce or quit the country. If you are SOUL tired, it’s probably listening that you really need.
We start on 7th November and run for 6 weeks. 9.30-10.45am GMT/6.30pm Sydney/8.30pm Auckland. Calls take place on Zoom, which you can join via internet or local access number