Every emotion has a starting point. Sometimes going back to the basics and working your way up is the best approach for managing stress.
Listen to our latest podcast with Hanna Salazar. We discuss the development of Emotional Intelligence and decision-making skills.
Knowing How to Listen is the Key to Success
Listening is an art that most people have not mastered. This is true because we live in a hurried world where instant gratification has become the norm. We want fast food, fast cars, fast computers, fast answers and fast solutions. Surprisingly, it is quite easy to be a good listener if you take the time and can change your life personally and professionally. We need to learn to listen to our bodies, our families, our friends and our coworkers – even our neighbors and strangers.
Everyone wants to be heard. People love to be listened to. Some of our best health improvements and emotional healing begin when we feel like someone is listening to us with an open heart. It gives us the opportunity to speak our truth and to connect with other people. Our stress levels even reduce when we feel truly listened to.
So are you a good listener or just a good talker? The best relationships thrive when two people listen to each other with genuine love and interest. And we are not just talking about romantic relationships either! EVERY relationship benefits when we all have the opportunity to speak freely and without interruption or judgement. Most of us tend to self-criticize enough on our own. People are drawn to those who really listen to them.
What constitutes good listening?
- Focus your attention 100% on the other person (friend, spouse, relative, children, client.) Do not let your mind wander to another person, task or obligation.
- Don’t think about what you want to say or should say. Your presence and full attention are more important.
- Ask questions instead of imparting advice. Do not redirect the conversation to yourself. Try to avoid “why” questions as it can cause some people to go on the defensive, especially if they are really confused about what is going on in their life at the moment. Ask questions, such as “What do you think would happen if you…?” or “When do you feel that way?” or “How will doing “x” make you feel?”
- If they stop speaking, don’t feel compelled to speak right away. Hesitate before you respond or ask a question to give them time to reflect on their thoughts. Moments of silence let them know you hear them and that you value what they have to say.
- Listen to their worries, beliefs, and goals.
- Pay attention to their body language and tone of voice.
- Repeat what you heard to make sure you understand what they have communicated to you.
- Trust your intuition and remain empathetic. If you feel a hug is warranted or a touch to the shoulder, give it to show your compassion or support. If the other person seems to be distancing themselves physically, give a warm smile and break eye contact to allow them to regain their comfort.
- When the moment is right, offer constructive feedback or suggestions on how the other person might make positive changes or get closer to making a decision with which they are struggling. Don’t overwhelm them with more than three to five suggestions. They will need time to absorb what you are saying, especially if their situation is stressful or life-changing.
- Be sure to let the other person know you appreciate their willingness to talk to you. This opens the door to a deeper trust and lets the person know you are there for them.
Practice active listening
The above suggestions are part of what is referred to as “active listening.” The more you practice, the better you become at it. Being a good listener empowers you and lets others know you care about what they have to say.
Ways to practice might include the following
Start a conversation with clerks and salespeople when you shop, doormen, delivery drivers, police officers, cleaning professionals at your office, your neighbors, and even people on the phone such as customer service agents who help you with a myriad of services. You’d be surprised how few people even bother to ask how their day is going or to smile at them and wish them well.
Need someone to listen to YOU?
Hire a life coach. They have the skills and the passion to help others find solutions to everything from how to make a decision to how to eliminate anxiety to how to create healthy habits.
A life coach pushes you to move toward your goals and use your past experience as a catalyst for change.
When you are deciding whether to hire a life or health coach or to hire a therapist, you should look at the similiarities and differences to their approach and scope of practice. Once you are clear on what you want to achieve, you can make a confident decision and begin working toward your end goals.
Therapists and coaches work to create collaborative partnerships with their clients. They both establish trust and respect and use active listening to make sure a client’s voice and concerns are heard.
Both ask a lot of questions to guide a client to find solutions from within. Both adhere to high standards of ethics and live by the rule of confidentiality.
Therapists and coaches stay within the scope of practice based on their training, education and certification or licensing and refer to appropriate professionals when a client’s needs are out of their scope of practice.
Many people are confused about the difference between a life coach and a therapist. While they both have similar goals, to help you, there are many differences in their scope of practice and approach to working with clients.
In general, a life coach is not a licensed therapist or medical professional (though some may be both.) Clients choose a coach to figure out their goals and challenges and determine a plan of action towards making the changes in their life to achieve their end goal.
A coach approaches each client from where they are “today” and helps the client create a set of short-term goals and long-term goals to reach the results they desire.
A good coach looks at how to solve problems now and not stay buried in the root of the issues at hand.
Life coaches do not diagnose or treat medical or mental illnesses. If a client, for instance, mentions suicidal thoughts or asks for a cure for a disease, it’s their obligation to refer the client to the appropriate medical professional.
Life coaching brings more power and control to your life by teaching you the practical skills you need to make positive changes in your life.
While therapy focuses on revisiting and healing the past, coaching focuses on changing your perspective of the past and bringing the positive outcomes to the present to help you move forward to the future.
Life coaching uses timelines to establish points along the journey to guide a client to better success at reaching their ambitions, whether personal or professional.
Life coaches are not in the business of maintaining clients in sessions for life. Their expertise lies in helping clients through challenges and finding the motivation and self-confidence to make the changes that will move them toward their ultimate goal.
Life coaching is not mock-therapy. It is a dynamic skillset that can help you to achieve your goals and move forward in life with more confidence and the tools to get there faster.
A life coach wants to help you create your future by establishing achievable plans of action.
A coach sets a definitive time-frame for you with a beginning and end date with the intention of providing you the skills to continue moving forward on your own. Sometimes clients need additional coaching or come back for help with other concerns or goals, but coaching is not meant to be open-ended.
A coach helps you become “unstuck.”
A coach asks what you want out of life.
A therapist works with clients to evaluate past experiences and end habits and routines that are destructive. They help clients work through emotional valleys by looking inside.
Therapy is often covered by health insurance, while life coaching is rarely covered by health insurance (as of 2018.)
Therapy is used to discover what the problem is and develops a treatment plan to remove a client’s pain.
Therapy is highly focused on curing an emotional or mental disorder or dysfunction.
Therapy continually looks at your past – childhood, family or relationships – to heal your “condition” or circumstance.
Therapy gives clients licensed medical oversight when they are dealing with clinical depression, severe mental health disorders, diagnosed diseases or deficiencies.
Therapy generally has no end-date and often goes on for years on end.
A therapist asks why you feel the way you do.
Who is right for you – a life coach or a therapist?
The only person who can answer this question is you.
If you are looking for someone to talk things out with and revisit your past or you have a serious medical or mental health condition, seek therapy and makes sure you are comfortable with the professional you choose. Never downplay the seriousness of your physical or mental health.
Choose a therapist when you are easily set off or defensive to the advice of others, if you have an addiction that requires treatment, or if you are not ready to talk about all of the issues that a coach can work with you to resolve, find a therapist.
Choose a coach when you are stable and generally healthy and when you are truly ready to make changes in your life. A coach can only help you if you are willing to do the work to find the plan and solution that is right for you. You can even work with a coach in conjunction with your medical doctor or mental health professional for a team approach.
Whether you are looking to improve your confidence in business or social settings, change careers, lose weight, change your diet, become more productive, build your character or reduce anxiety, a coach can be the right person for you.
Whichever you choose, prepare to be open and honest and ready for change.
When life presses the pause button on our progress, the natural tendency is to worry. Among the many circumstances we face, we often worry about our health, finances, and our relationships. As unrealistic as worrying can sometimes be – it is one of the most common symptoms we face. But will worrying today create the certainty you crave the following day? Research suggests that half the worrying we do is in anticipation of a negative future outcome. Our relationship to worrying is often reflected in our ability to solve problems.
Do you ever find yourself caught up in your own worrying? If you want to stop worrying and embrace a solution, you have to understand the core of your worrying. Generally speaking, we can agree, without a doubt, that worrying is a waste of time. Though the solution isn’t always what we would expect, we can trust that there is hope for the future. Just like a diamond is forged through immense heat and pressure, so must we go through a similar process to grow beyond our expectations. This is how our character is formed. The road has no easy path, but coming to terms with reality is the first step to recovery.
At a certain point in our lives, we come to the realization that we have little control over the events in our lives, but we can learn to change our perception – that alone can change everything. Jesus often spoke about worrying, the things we are most devoted are what we worry about. If we’re devoted to health, we will inevitably worry about it. If we are devoted to our finances, we will inevitably worry about it. If we are devoted to our relationships, we will inevitably worry about it. Though these things are important, depending on the individual – the list could be endless.
What if you could shift the meaning you assign each experience? How could that change your life? Imagine, if instead of feeling anxious, you felt peace.
Here are the top three things people worry about most:
Your Future, Your Money
The stresses of finances can be a heavy burden; whether worrying about debt, fear you won’t have enough to cover your next monthly bill, worried about your retirement, or raising your kids – indeed, feeling financially insecure can impact your stress level greatly. Chronic worrying can eventually take huge leaps in your life, causing major anxiety and severely impacting your self-esteem.
Suzanne Woolley from Bloomberg writes, “In 2017, 34 percent of workers said their current financial worries negatively affects their lives, compared with just 21 percent in 2015.” It seems America is more concerned each year. So, what is the solution? Gain leverage by getting a handle on your financial situation and create a realistic plan that results in sound budgeting. More often than not, it is when we sit down to create a plan that we realize the situation was not as big, to begin with.
Your Life, Your Health
Most people don’t know Moses as an insecure individual. We know him as a leader. A man who empowered the oppressed with a staff on one hand and a heart committed to achieving the impossible. When Moses decided to flee Egypt for fear of being killed, his worrying took a toll on him. Many decades went by before he could see and understand his own mortality. I wonder if he feared whether or not he would eat, where he would sleep, or what the next step of his life looked like.
It is not uncommon to worry about our health or the health of the people we love. In fact, some worry is not necessarily a bad thing. To a certain extent, worrying may propel us to eat a healthy diet and exercise. Too much worrying though, can cause turmoil, setbacks, and anxiety. I sometimes wonder if Moses feared for his health. The Bible called him an anxious man with self-esteem issues. Fearing or worrying about your health can cause serious physical and mental conditions.
Though difficult to do, realizing and accepting that death is inevitable is an important part of life. When Moses accepted his mortality, only then was he able to live a joyful productive life despite his circumstances. When we realize that the events of life are often out of our control, we can do our best to live for the present while preparing for the future – encouraged that tomorrow will bring new opportunities.
Your Relationships, Your Impact
If there is one common subject throughout the bible it is a theme of restoration. God wants to restore our relationship with him and our relationship with others. In fact, our relationship with the people around us is a reflection of our relationship with God. Communicating through our problems is often the solution to a fulfilling relationship. If you’re single, the worry may be finding the right partner. If you’re in a relationship, the worry may be where the future will take you or will the bond last. We all worry. That’s because relationships play a key role in our joy. Your relationship with your boss will affect your productivity, your relationship with your family will affect your relationship with others, your relationship with your friends will affect your happiness. Relationships are important, which is why you are reading this today.
The solution? Whether you were wronged or someone has wronged you, take the initiative to communicate through the problem effectively, blame lies on both sides of the coin. We are each responsible for our thoughts, actions, and especially our happiness. We may not have control of how people react to us, but we certainly have control of how we react to them. Loving those who have hurt us is incredibly difficult to do, but it is often how we grow and mature. The road has no easy path but coming to terms with reality is the first step to recovery.
How do you turn the feeling of temptation into a success mindset? Temptation can come in many different forms. They often times come and go … or do they? Every now and then, we run into temptations that won’t seem to disappear. It is as though our emotions are deliberately strategizing against us – leaving us defeated.
Most of the time people know what to do, but they’re not doing it.
How badly do you want to change your health, lose weight, get rid of inflammation and pain, and/or fight a chronic disease and prescription medication?
We all know that greens, vegetables, beans and berries are good for us. However, we get mislead, misinformed, marketed to and outright lied to over and over about food choice and what is truly healthy. And it’s no lie that the processed foods, salty, fatty meats and sweet desserts and oversized fast food taste good. But is our quality of life worth the cost of eating those foods?
Things that hold us back:
- Time – shopping, preparation
- Money – they think they can’t afford eating healthier
- Knowledge – they don’t know or understand what to do.
- Fear of change – when you fear change, what you really fear is that you won’t be loved
People don’t do in life what they do based on what they know. They change based on how they feel.
All diets work and then they all fail after a time. The question is not what works for you, but what will work for you forever.
In any program, you have to be able to make a U-turn. The programs we offer the people who trust us have to be ones they can get back on again.
Success is when you forget you are on a program. That’s when you know it’s really working for you. You have to give yourself at least six weeks for whatever you try to add or remove from your life. It takes an average of six months for permanent changes and habits to take hold. You have to keep modifying until you find a way or habit that makes sense. The basics of healthy eating are the same for everyone, but there are differences based on where we start from, our current health, our personal preferences and our overall goals. Keep that in mind as you move forward on your journey to health