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What Did You Say? (How to Stop "Thinking Over" Others)

 

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and while you're talking and sharing your opinion or thoughts, you can tell that they aren't really listening to you? They're jumping in at every little pause or opening, waiting to give advice or explain how you're wrong...

 

 

During emotionally charged conversations, maybe you've found yourself not listening and instead creating a case in your head for why the person you're conversing with is wrong (and noting all the ways you will prove that you are right).

I hate to admit it, but sometimes in conversations with my wife, I may look like I'm listening...but I'm really only thinking about how I'll retaliate, or looking for what she's missed, how I need to correct what she's saying, or only on how I feel. In those moments, I'm not really present with her; I'm not actually listening to her.

 

 
These kinds of conversations tend to provoke feelings of frustration, bitterness, and a sense of isolation, right?

When we're younger, we usually learn how not to TALK over someone. But how many of us have actually learned how to stop THINKING over someone when they're trying to talk to us?

This is where mindful communication can help. Mindful communication helps us learn how to stop "thinking over" someone, and requires a slowing down of the process of communication.

There are essentially two roles occurring at any given moment during communication with someone: there's the listening role and the talking or expressing role.

It's really important that you're doing one OR the other, because when you try to do both at the same time, you end up doing neither. (If you choose to pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings, you can't simultaneously pay attention to the other person.)

Mindful awareness of the present moment allows us to encounter reality for what it is, rather than how we interpret it to be through the filter of our own false narratives, assumptions, criticisms, and interpretations.

When the present moment includes another person, with his or her own thoughts and feelings, then mindful awareness is foundational to truly encountering the other person as he or she really is.

Mindful communication is the basis for the relational therapy I provide, and also informs the way I try to relate to the people in my life (with much room for growth!). This kind of communication is grounded in the anthropology of Pope St. John Paul II and is composed of both empathy and something he refers to as "tenderness" - communicating to the other person that you are empathizing with them.

When you can empathize and really put yourself in another's shoes - whatever may be going on there - and then communicate to them that you're there with them, that you feel it, you see it, you know it, you're receiving it?

That's tenderness, and that will develop unity.

This can be the starting point for resolving even the worst conflicts. That's what mindful communication is all about.

 

 

If you're interested in learning more about how Mindfulness can help bring peace into your life, check out our Catholic Mindfulness Virtual Retreat.

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