Are You Present?

Hi everyone,

Have you ever driven somewhere, arrived and thought “I’m not sure how I got here”? I think we’ve probably all experienced that at some point; been distracted, driven on auto pilot and then ‘woken up’ on our arrival. Your sub conscious mind is your co-pilot on those occasions. It would give you a nudge if there was a red light or something you needed to be mindful of. Although being ‘awake’ for the whole journey is preferable of course! ?

But have you had a conversation with your child, partner, a friend or colleague and later thought “what were they saying?” and realised that you weren’t very tuned in to what was being said because your mind was elsewhere?  A friend told me recently about a school that had sent letters to parents to ask them to greet their child with a smile when they came out of school instead of the tops of their heads because they were all looking at their phones.  That’s sad isn’t it?  It links into what I was saying last week I guess.  Are we too distracted by social media and what other people are tweeting, texting and sharing to be present for the here and now?  I think that situation will bite those parents on the *** at some point because when those children are a bit older and stuck to their phones, their parents will tell them to put them down to which their reply might be “well you never did”.  Karma’s a b***h isn’t it?! ?

I appreciate that you have really busy lives but if possible try to be mindful about being present for the important conversations.  Sometimes conversations might be just ‘traffic’ especially with family members and colleagues.  Sometimes they are just chatting.  But being able to know when to really tune in is a skill.  And if you’re struggling to be present then you could easily miss something.  Not deliberately but just because you’re very pre-occupied with other thoughts.  Sometimes it’s good just to stop and look around.  Get up and walk around.  See how things are.  Tap into how things feel.  People will soon come and find you if you make yourself available.  Sometimes that’s why we don’t do it.  We’re so overwhelmed already that we don’t really want people to come and tell us any more problems.  We’ve got enough already!  That’s for all of us to make personal decisions on but try to be present for part of the day at least.

Have a think.  Are you present in these situations?

  • with your partner
  • with your children
  • with other family members
  • with friends
  • at work, with colleagues, your team and Line Manager
  • with your GP and other healthcare professionals
  • when you relax
  • when you’re in the car
  • when you’re on the phone
  • in the bath or shower
  • on your own

If you’re saying ‘no’ to a good number of those it might be worth thinking about how you can be more present with the important people in your life and with yourself.  Good wellbeing comes from many layers of our lives and being able to switch off and relax is one of those.  Offering good support to others by being present when they’re speaking to us also supports our own wellbeing as that’s good for our self esteem, seeing that our help has made someone smile or feel less upset.

If you’re trying to do ten things at once you might not be keeping anyone happy, including yourself because you can feel you’re not achieving anything, you’re not enabled to do anything well so none of it feels very rewarding.  We all need to multi-task but whenever possible try to block the distractions and focus on one thing or one conversation at a time.  To start with it may well feel slow and cumbersome but because you achieve more by being present and in the moment it will start to feel more effective as you get used to it.  It goes back to my favourite phrase, is it running you, or are you running it?  If you’re running things then you can be present, listen well and make conscious decisions for change.  If it’s running you then you might feel a bit like you’re on a hamster wheel and that’s not productive for anyone.

Like anything, it takes practice so try and have a conversation each day where you think “I was definitely present for that”.  Once you start to see the benefits that’ll encourage you to keep going and a more positive cycle of behaviour will develop.  Sometimes we do need to let our minds wander and day dream, that’s also good for our wellbeing but consciously choosing not to do that on the M6 might be a good idea! ?

Drive safely please, take good care and have a great day.

Best wishes, Karen