Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Gift of Attention

It feels really,really good to have the whole,undivided attention of someone you care about or hold in high regard.It's about the best gift you can give or get. Children love their parents' and grandparents' attention.Even teenagers like to get low-key attention and hanging out together with parents,assuming it's without conversational grilling(how about that Algebra 2 grade?)Husbands like to get positive attention from their wives,so they feel held in the relationship,important and special.Wives love to get positive attentiveness and companionship from husbands to feel visible and cherished.Adult children still jockey for position to notice how aging parents pay attention to adult siblings.

I can remember being in graduate school at Chapman,in supervision with a favorite,esteemed professor and noticing how it bothered me when he got up and fiddled with making coffee while I was getting consultation with him on my first counseling caseload.I finally summoned up my courage part way through the semester and shared with him that I really benefited from his eye contact and full focus while I was with him for a valued hour of his insight and wisdom on treatment planning.It became a standing silly joke between the two of us whenever I met with him after that."Christyn,I am listening!" he would say with a smile in his eyes.

Full attention requires eye contact. It means you are honest if you are distracted,and plan another time when you can give your all. Full attention means sitting nearby the other person,and putting away cell phones,ipads,computer screen,and turning off the television.You can't multitask and give some one your complete attention. It is rare that we get someone's full attention these days and it feels WONDERFUL.It makes you feel valued,significant, and nurtured.It costs nothing!

In the age of 'stuff',we buy our children things,and we drive them to lessons,social events,school,and sports.Maybe this is a novel way at looking at our relationships with our children and our partners,where we give them the best gifts of all---our time and attention.In a hurry-up,fractured world, a little one-on-one time soothes the savage beast in each of us and strengthens the connection between us. Who can you give your full attention to this week? And whose attention do you want to ask for in a humor-filled or direct way? You can change the dance in any relationship by showering that person with your full attention.Just watch;they should be pleasantly surprised by the promotion to a higher level of your attention.Remember, where attention goes,energy flows.

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