In Week 9 we approached the theme of Connection, which reminded me to be present in my relationships and be open to vulnerability.
I’m going through Selph’s Coaching Programme and recording my journey as I go!
My name’s Sarah-Lizzie, and you might have seen my other articles on our Learn page! Like everyone, I have my own goals and challenges to overcome. I can admit my health needs improving. Holistic health coaching sounded like the right place to start. A few months later here I am - looking back on Week 9 of my Selph coaching journey.
Having the theme of Connection following on from last week’s theme, Courage, worked brilliantly for me. As I mentioned last week, it can take a lot of courage to be open and honest with our loved ones. Saying something as simple as a compliment can sometimes be intimidating not knowing what the response will be.
This week, the resources along with the constant support and encouragement from my coach helped me to connect with my loved ones. I made more time to meet with friends while being spontaneous and flexible, something I can often struggle with.
Especially after the pandemic, I feel like it’s become a lot more impactful when we do connect with each other. Making that time and doing something that for so long was restricted or even banned feels like more of an ‘event’ now. Something as simple as catching up in a cafe or going for a walk can feel like a much bigger deal.
Yet, after spending so much time without casual interaction, to me it can feel like there’s a new barrier there. I’m out of practice. Conversation isn’t flowing as well as it used to. There’s more awkward silences. Sometimes I need to step back and remind myself that it’s not my fault and it’s not happening because I lack the confidence to keep a conversation going. Many people might feel a similar way and it will pass with time.
Making an effort to help the silences feel less awkward is really empowering - choosing to sit and take in the scene around you, rather than just staring at your hands.
This week, one of the resources gave me guidance on how to listen mindfully to others. Making sure others feel heard is something I’ve prioritised for quite some time. I used to be very quiet, so I always try to make sure everyone feels included.
But every now and then I can get too caught up in thoughts like “am I making enough eye contact? Do I look like I understand what they’re talking about? Is my expression too serious, should I smile so they feel more comfortable? I haven’t responded in a while…”. Perhaps we’ve all been there at some point!
Instead of getting pulled into this inner monologue, the Selph resources encouraged me to try just letting the experience flow naturally. Actually listen and don’t be afraid of silences when you’re thinking about your reply.
Focus instead on what the other person said - did they leave out anything they might want to elaborate on? Don’t feel like you have to give your opinion on everything - you could just invite them to continue their train of thought.
I had the joy of meeting a friend during this week and we had a wonderfully open conversation. In fact, even though it was with one of my best friends, I felt like it was one of the most absorbing conversations we had ever had. There were lulls and silences, there were still topics I didn’t have opinions on yet where I didn’t know what to say. But instead of being awkward, it was brilliant.
Rather than blindly agreeing with their opinion, something I would have done in the past, I would ask them to elaborate on why they thought in certain ways or if they’d had certain experiences that shaped their views. I felt so involved despite having nothing to contribute opinion-wise at times.
Best of all, I felt authentic to myself. I wasn’t spinning out thoughts that didn’t actually hold true for me just for the sake of filling empty space with words. And I felt like my friend left feeling heard and understood, like I’d helped to create a space for connection.
After last week’s theme of Courage, I felt more equipped to leave my normal comfort zone and make efforts to deepen my connection with others.
An exercise I like to do myself when I’m feeling caught up in my own little universe is to look at anyone else - be they friend or stranger - and imagine what their perception of the world is. What could they be feeling? What might be important to them? How are we similar or different?
I like to come to terms with the fact that they’re a whole other person going through their life, and how amazing that is. It makes me feel very connected to them as another human being, even if I’ve never spoken to them before or never will.
Connection helped me to realise that I have more in common with those around me than I thought. We all need connection, but many of us aren’t confident enough to seize it. It takes bravery to make the first move to deepen connections with those around us.
Be it telling someone we love them or asking if someone wants to meet for coffee or for a virtual online call, we can all be nervous about facing new situations. If we can push past that resistance, maybe others will feel more comfortable doing the same in their lives.