How well do you know your unedited self? In this post I will share a powerful tool that can help you to practice being present with people, to feel more connected, and to reconnect with your dreams, thoughts, and passions.
Some of my favorite TV shows involve an ongoing first person narrative, where the character’s thoughts are broadcast out loud. Because I am privy to the characters thoughts, I feel some strange distant connection to the character, in some ways I feel connected to myself.
When I listened to my own thoughts, I found them to be more random, and disjointed. The characters in books and TV seemed to have a nice narrative flow to their thoughts. Still, my unedited self is just as worthy of being connected, listened to, and enjoyed as any fictitious character.
Being able to connect with real people in the here and now begins with listening to that inner dialog. Ironically, getting outside your head, and learning to enjoy feeling connected with others, begins with learning to listen to yourself.
Practice Listening to Your Inner Dialog
You can begin listening to your inner dialog by writing. (If you have an aversion to writing, try doing this activity out loud). Your task is to begin writing (or verbalizing) everything you are experiencing, thinking, seeing, sensing. (You may have heard it called stream of consciousness). It helps to repeat the phrase, “right now I am…. ”
If you find yourself not knowing what to say then, “Right now I have nothing…”
If you find yourself stopping become aware of where your mind wandered, interrupt the train of though and bring it into the present by writing, Now I am remembering to do the wash, I want to do the wash right now, and I have to do this dumb…oh wait the phone is ringing, right now I am …..”
The idea is to notice the distraction and note it, and continue listening to yourself and keep writing it down. Note when you try to edit a thought, or push it away. “Just now I started to think I need to do my laundry, I am wanting to stop this activity.”
Tips:Trust the process. You are just giving yourself a moment to listen, you do not have to respond, correct, edit, judge, analyze or re-read what you write.
It is ok to argue with yourself. That said—if you chose to do this exercise verbally it would be wise to take precautions for privacy.
Keep your pen moving the whole time.
Write at least 2 pages you can use one page and layer your second page of writing right over the first page. This way it is relatively private and you will not be tempted to read what you have written.
Use the words “now, notice, and aware” often to help you to stay present.
Check in with yourself when you feel you are on a writing roll. Are you in the present (experiencing listening to yourself and transcribing it) or are you planning, being a writer, a pontificator. Look up from your writing and see if your thoughts change and note it. The idea is to not get caught up in writing, get caught up in noticing and listening.
Use the personal pronoun throughout the exercise. This is you and your experience. “I” is not a bad word. “I feel, I see, I hear, I remember,”
If you come across something you want to “think about” Write what it feels like to want to think about it now. Remember your job is to notice and write (not to think).
How Does this Help? & How Can I Use It?
Practicing this daily begins training your brain to notice when you have drifted inward. That is, you start thinking about things. You may be thinking about the future (what am having for dinner tonight). You may be thinking about the past (Last time he said that…). You start noticing other people talking about things. This is neither bad nor good. It is an opportunity to choose to be present;
How do I use it
As in practice, begin using words like now, notice, aware.
“I noticed you are talking a lot about food, I am hungry. I want to eat, how about you?”
If you catch mind wandering to a past memory; change your self-talk to the present. “I noticed that I slipped into a memory. Right now I will listen and be aware of what I am seeing hearing, experiencing in this conversation”
If you notice you are on a talking roll; look up, and notice what is happening around you as you speak. Check in with the other person. Notice their response.
Practice using “I” when you talk and elicit “I” statements from others. For example when someone says “We want to be first in line.” You might consider, “Is that what I want to do?” Or you might respond, “Is that what you want to do?” As you use these I statements you may be surprised to discover thoughts feelings and passions that you had not given much thought to before. Likewise you may find the same is true as you elicit I statements from others.
Now Are You Willing Come Back and Connect Here?
Now is your chance to try this experiment. Please share your experience with me in the comment section. Your response will be anonymous.