This time of year many people see as a time for reflection, taking stock, giving thanks and appreciation for what they have, or looking forward to the goals they would like to pursue in the coming year.
How could this coming year be different? Could we hope to cure all that ails our planet or could we hope for something simpler? I am thinking of trying something that seems a little simpler and that is, trying to be truly present for others.
Being truly present may not sound difficult but I think it will prove to be a challenge. What if we were really present in our interactions with those whom we encounter every day? What if we really listened and responded to a question after really contemplating the answer? What if we put down our cell phones and really listened to the question by taking the time to look someone in the eye as you answer their question? Might this mean something to the other person?
Every day is busy and we all are trying to multi-task with our ever changing hats that we wear. But what kind of changes would happen, even in the small circles that we move in, if we gave one another our full attention? Would others feel appreciated? Cared for? Valued? Heard? Soothed? Cherished?
Then I think about the care and treatment we provide at Spurwink. Would being truly present feed a need our clients, caregivers, providers and co-workers have? What would this do for our spouses, children, families and friends? What could this do for our neighbors? Communities? No need for me to go on, you get the idea.
Would we stop hearing, “Did you hear a word I said?” “Are you paying attention to me?” “Please put down your phone.” “What?” Maybe I am the only one who gets these questions.
What would it do for you? Would you stop saying, “What was the time of that meeting?” because you thought you were successfully multi-tasking? Would you slow down a little? Would you sit in one place longer – enough to have a meaningful conversation with someone about a mutually enjoyable topic? Might you laugh with someone or just smile for one blissful moment as you appreciate the person you are present for?
Technology has quickened the pace of so many things that we do at work and at home. We are looking for rapid results and want answers faster because we can’t wait calmly in our own skin for them. The hours and days fly by hardly knowing where the time went, yet we continue to move as fast as we can to get the job done and check off the boxes on our many lists.
We want our clients to make progress quickly and we see failure when they don’t progress as quickly as we expect and may see it as a reflection on our work. Taking time to be present with our clients and those most important to us can be part of a movement towards the progress we so desperately want to see and feel as success.
I don’t think my undivided attention will solve all of the world’s problems, but it just might make some moments more meaningful to others. I might learn something new or maybe help solve a problem. By being fully present, I might make someone laugh or smile, just by my listening to them.
This holiday season and the coming year, I will put down my phone, look away from my computer, and do my best to give the person standing before me awaiting a response my undivided attention when interacting with him or her.
We both just might receive a present in return.
By Karen Backman, LCPC
Director of the Professional Development Center