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Weekly Wellness Word: Shift

Monthly Theme: Communicating This week’s word is Shift. There is an old saying - when you point the finger at someone else there are three fingers pointing back at you. Yet, those fingers lie underneath the ones pointed at them, partially concealed, hidden. Consider this image as a symbol of what happens when we aim words at another person. It not only adds bricks to the walls of barriers between you, but it also prevents you from opening yourself up to them, from sharing who you are and why you feel the way you do. This is a self-defense mechanism designed to keep the focus off of you, a cop out of being honest and transparent about yourself.  Intrapersonal communication starts with opening the door of vulnerability with others, letting them in on your thoughts and feelings. This can be scary sometimes. You may have some fear of rejection or dismissal, whether you are fully aware of that fear or not. As a result, you may have a tendency to shift the attention to the other person.  Healthy lines of communications can be opened when each person is given permission and freedom to speak for herself. When you make an 'I' statements instead of a 'you' statements, for example, it helps to remove a brick from the barriers of communication. It fosters a greater chance of the person understanding you better and it helps her feel safe to share her own thoughts and feelings with you. The next time you are in a conversation, imagine a spotlight shining from the ceiling. Who is in the spotlight? Notice what happens when the spotlight is on you and the other person steals the spotlight, shifting the attention of the conversation to themselves. How does that make you feel? Now, notice when the spotlight is on the other person and you steal the attention for yourself by interrupting or interjecting your own experience. Observe the body language of the other person. Consider whether you have affirmed or dismissed their experience by inserting your own before they were finished. Feel free to journal about your reflections if that is helpful for you. Quote of the Week "It is natural to form judgments about the world...We do this continually, whether or not we are aware of it. We all have generaliations about the sexes, other age groups, and other cultures, but if we use those generalizations to sterotype, 'write off', or oversimplify our ideas about another person, we miss the opportunity to know them better or to learn from them, and expand our understanding of the world we share. Appreciate that there is some truth in generalizations, but don't make them the sum total of your communications. It can become a prolem if we are unable to change our opinions, or if we make the mistake of assuming that everyone else shares our opionins - or would, if they were intelligent enough or better informed.  This tendency to put people or things into convenient boxes commonly shows up in conversations as absolute statements, generalizstions, and 'is' labels: 'You never ask me what I want to do.' 'Teenagers all like that horrible, loud music.' 'Coffee is bad for you.' 'There is nothing we can do about it.' 'You'll never get a decent job.' '[That group of people] can't be trusted.' Statements like these are communication barriers; they detour our energies in a numer of ways: - They limit our worldview, and also our alternatives. As alternatives decrease, stress increases. - They set us up for opposition, debate, and confrontation with those who don't agree. As defensiveness increases, so does stress. - They distance other people or cause them to decide, 'It's no use talking to her.' And it's difficult to cultivate intimacy or friendship when the other moves away. Try listening to yourself to see if you have fallen into the habit of speaking in absolute terms. As you catch yourself, let that cue you to substitute a statement that will keep the lines of communication open. Note how these amended responses actually communicate more data; they also leave the other person free to disagree - and therefore keep the lines of communication open." - Wellness Workbook by John W. Travis, MD, & Regina Sara Ryan Next Step If you notice that you often steal attention away from others during conversation, check out this article about Conversational Narcissism from Further Information For a deeper dive on how to Turn More Conversations Into Mutually Beneficial Opportunities, check out this article from HuffPost. Have a great week! #weeklywellnessword #nourishyourbeing

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