Today is World Mental Health Day. I have an up and down relationship with my mental health and one of the things that’s helped me the most is having people to turn to who have the ability to just listen. People who can hold space for me and just hear what needs to come out. No advice, no offer of a solution, just open ears and a kind heart. Being a good listener isn’t easy. It’s a skill. We have this innate desire to help - especially when it’s someone we care for, when what may be needed the most is a safe space for them to articulate and start to process what’s going on inside their head. Below are 3 tips courtesy of Tony Robbins on how we can all become better at listening: 💛 EYE CONTACT: looking someone in the eye for the majority of the time they’re speaking helps keep us focused and engaged in what they’re saying (rather than half-listening & subconsciously thinking what we’re going to say to help ‘fix’ the situation..) 💛 PRESENCE: our brains work a lot faster than mouths! On average about 3x faster. This means 3x more words enter our head each minute versus the words we are hearing - hence it’s easy for our mind to drift. This is where a regular meditation practice can be helpful - learning to faster recognise when the mind wanders and gently draw it back to the person in front of us. 💛 BODY LANGUAGE: a smile, a nod, a squeeze of the hand. The occasional non-verbal sign that we are there and we are listening. Position yourself to show you are a welcoming and safe space - turn to or lean in towards them, place your hands gently in your lap and try not to angle yourself away. Hopefully some of these suggestions stick with you the next time you have a conversation today, whether it be with your best friend or the shop attendant in the supermarket. Deep listening is so, so powerful in helping us all feel more connected and less alone. It’s a free mental health tool and something we can all try and be better at it.
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