Below I share with you a story from my journey in Self-Awareness and Slowing Down, including a significant realisation from my life at the sharp end of corporate life that has massively helped me up my game and improve my performance.
I hope this helps you no matter what your working or home environment... Do let me know...
So in the beginning of consciously developing greater self awareness, perhaps where you are now, I thought:
I'm great at concentrating, my mind doesn't wander.
Then as I became more able to witness my thoughts - I started to notice. I realised "oh my mind does wander a bit".
This woke me up even more and over time I then I realised holy cow, my mind is like a hyperactive 2 year old after a sugar hit!!
If you are going through this cycle for the first time - don't beat yourself up. This is how our minds work.
Remember the process: inner smile, soften, release any effort or trying, release with the breath. Be gentle with yourself.
Here's a real life example of the power of this practice over time - why it's worth developing - from my life, this morning!
I'm on zoom having a 1-2-1 with a colleague. He is speaking and I intend to fully focus on what he's saying. We have to prep for a workshop we are running for an important banking client we are hosting tomorrow.
I witness myself listening to him, then my mind flips to this group and that I've not been able to login and post anything today. I notice and pull it back but honestly I've lost around half a sentence of what he was saying.
I focus on him fully once more. And then before you know it, off goes my attention again, like a naughty monkey jumping to another branch, my mind leaps to what he and I will do tomorrow. Again, I lose perhaps half a sentence or more of what he's saying.
The power here IS THAT I NOTICE that I can exercise my CHOICE TO PULL MY ATTENTION BACK.
I tell myself I haven't missed anything important, that I understand him but have I?
Noticing our patterns - the continuation of this case study:
Working with this particular colleague has really helped me to slow down and realise a fundamental truth.
He and I clashed badly during the first month or two we worked together. I am grateful that we worked together to understand and resolve the situation. This was a difficult journey, one that at the time I would have preferred not to make, but now I realise it was a true life lesson.
Given the high stress environment, I'm certain the speed at which I tried to work meant that I missed critical cues from him. He felt my lack of listening and it triggered emotional issues for him that got in the way of our successful collaboration.
Stories like this arose in his head: 'she thinks I'm useless', 'I'm not good enough', 'I don't fit in around here'. This is no foundation for open communication and trust. He stomped around like a bear with an angry head. Tried to prove himself right all the time and wouldn't collaborate.
His behaviour matched his emotional state - of course - not what polite words he might say. We cleared the air through honest dialogue. Techniques I learned in Non Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
It started by me inviting him for a coffee, saying genuinely how sad I was that we were clashing. How I saw that both he and I were unhappy and how I'd love his help to see if we could resolve it. He appreciated me taking this step and happily for us both this laid the foundation for an open conversation where we were both able to explain and hear each other and understand a better way forward.
This is a technique to resolve conflict [Thich That Hanh, Marshall Rosenberg, ORSC all describe this in their work] where we position the problem out in front, so that the people in conflict can connect and team up to solve it rather than let it come between them. This doesn't always work the first time, but is much more likely to work if you are genuine and if it doesn't work the first time, it is easier to be patient with the person as you recognise how they are suffering too.
Oh now I see how the pattern ripples back over time...
I recognise a similarity with situations like this in the past, the most recent a few years ago working in the same bank that ?@Matina Tsiakiri works at but in the London office. I notice the similarity of the conditions - pressure that I interpreted as the need to speed up, to focus on getting the job done, fantastic and fast!
And now my brain goes ting, ting, ting, ting as I see the resonance with other key conflicts going back over my career...
In all of these, I was running my then unconscious stories of 'need to prove myself, that I am good enough', 'hurry up'.
I noticed how I seemed to trigger what seemed like inexplicable negative behaviour in others.
Our energetic pattern, our inner thoughts, how we treat others is conveyed to others without us even saying a word.
Once we spot it - we are already well on the way to resolving the matter. As soon as we have awareness, we have choice.
We MUST SLOW DOWN.
We experience far less friction and conflict this way.
This means we ACHIEVE MORE and SUFFER SO MUCH LESS.
We cause less pain in others and ourselves.
Nancy Klein author of Time To Think, has the research to back up the statement: The power of our attention affects others' ability to think.
Thich Nhat Hanh so beautifully expresses that "Paying Attention is the foundation of True Love". Unless we are fully in the now, paying full attention, we can't hope to understand others - or ourselves.
I hope this helps you no matter what your working or home environment... Do let me know in the comments below...
Here I walk you through step by step many useful and practical techniques for emotional intelligence and how to make friends with your mind.
And provide you with other resources that may help you grow including meditation and more.
15 min guided meditation set to soft music to help you calm, soothe and release fear.