Diffuse Awareness vs. Single-Focus

As a life coach, I continue to learn and grow. One of the top needle-movers for me was Alison Armstrong and her understanding of men and women. Here is one point that will help you elevate yourself and those around you.

Men and women need to understand each other. Our differences are valuable. “We really were meant to shore up each other’s weaknesses,” says communication expert Alison Armstrong. One of the main differences Armstrong discusses is diffuse awareness verses single-focused awareness.

It is women’s diffuse awareness that causes the multitasking women are famous for. We watch TV and knit a sweater, we drive and plan our day, or we’re on the phone while checking email. Diffuse awareness even affects our vision. Women have “scan vision,” which enables us to enter a room and scan for an item. Imagine how useful this was to our ancestors as they scanned a meadow for edible food.

Our male ancestors navigated the world differently. Instead of scan vision, they employed hunting strategies, which included being single-focused. Men (hunters) had to focus on one thing to catch their pretty. Their vision allowed them to cast a spear with remarkable accuracy, but their strengths weren’t in finding a needle in a haystack.

Men might screen out everything irrelevant to the task at hand—even their partner. When this happens, try to remember men are wired to focus on one task at a time. Likewise, if you are multitasking when communicating with your partner, he may feel you aren’t paying attention to him or that you’re choosing a task over him

 

The Benefits of Book Clubs

If you find yourself always searching for a new book from the same authors, the same section of the bookstore, or rereading your favorites off your shelf at home, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but you might be missing out on some amazing reads. Consider joining a book club as one of your 2017 New Year’s resolutions. Book clubs expose you to reading material you may not have read otherwise, which gives you the opportunity to expand your mind and experience new authors, new genres, and new ideas.

Besides giving yourself exposure to new books, adding a community aspect to an otherwise solitary activity allows you to learn about others’ experiences and how they look at the world because of those experiences. Maybe you cheered Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester on throughout the novel, but another person had an interesting reason not to. Or maybe you absolutely hate a book that someone absolutely loves. Listening to others’ differing viewpoints gives you a chance to think critically, strengthen or reconsider your viewpoint, and it’s just kind of fun! Regularly getting together with a great group of people talking about books can be a blast—add some food and wine and let yourself have fun and laugh together.

My last book club selection was The 5 Languages of Love by Dr. Gary Chapman. I would highly recommend it; it could save your relationships or make the good ones even better. Dr. Chapman tells us that everyone has a “love tank” and many people have empty love tanks because they don’t know how to express how they feel about each other in ways that the other person understands. This is because everyone has a preferred Love Language, and you need to figure out what yours is, and what others’ are, in order to effectively communicate how you care for and love each other. Dr. Chapman says that love is a choice; find your partner’s love language style, then choose to show love to your partner in that way. I now use this book as a guide to all my other relationships and clients. Our next book is Pussy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer.

So, how do you join a book club? Here are a few ideas:

  • Start your own by inviting friends, relatives, neighbors, or co-workers.
  • Ask around! I bet at least a couple people you know are in a book club.
  • Check out your local library’s website and see if they have any book clubs available to join.
  • Try MeetUp.com and search for book clubs in your area.
  • Take a look at Goodreads.com and find an online book club!

Are you already involved in a book club? Share your experiences in the comments section of this post!

Being Deliberate Delivers

From moment to moment, we are in different states; they could be a state of reflection, a state of joy, a state of being engaged. Unfortunately, many of us are in the habit of being in the state of indifference, or a state of being distracted. We just go through the motions. We nod and uh-huh to our kids as we check our phones. We zone out in meetings. We hand a cup of coffee to our partner and don’t even look him or her in the eye. And they just grunt, “Thanks.”

Pat Parelli says, “Take the time it takes so it takes less time,” meaning doing something properly, such as really listening and connecting with someone, will yield more positive results rather than “faking it” or “doing something half-heartedly.”

And your relationships won’t be so much work in the long run, if you start them off right.

My friend, Julia, prompted this message. She is visiting from Germany and works on our dairy farm. We both love horses. I watched her feed the horses, and instead of just dumping the feed into the tubs, she waited until the horses listened and pleasantly engaged with her, rather than blowing her off, rude or grumpy. She just waited a little bit until she got a more pleasant and wanted response. Did it take a little more time? Sure. But her experience was better. What if we all took a little more time to create a state of being present and in the moment? If we took a few more moments to focus on what’s in front of us?

You can’t just show up and expect anything worthwhile without making an investment. Showing up engaged gives life to your experiences and relationships. Being present, or in the “now,” is a state worth creating.

Insights on How to Better Communicate with the Men in Your Life

 

Over the past year I had the privilege of discussing Man Information with men. The secret survey of men provided information from 2000 men. And another seminar I was fortunate to attend was called “Men are Like Dogs, and You are a Bad Owner.” Let me tell you—it was interesting! No rocks were left unturned.

Did you know that women make the mistake of communicating with men like they are hairy women? Men and women tend to process things differently, have slightly different communication styles, and men and women were generally raised differently; they received different messages from their parents, from society, and from the media. So, it’s not surprising that communicating with men just as you would your female friends and relatives sometimes doesn’t turn out as well as you want.

Here are two pieces of information from “Men are Like Dogs” that gave me new insights:

The first one is that women are often a bit up and down with their emotions, so for them, getting upset and then getting over it would be like jumping off a dock and climbing back up fairly quickly.

For a man, it’s like being in the middle of an ocean and having to swim for miles to land. In other words, it takes much longer for a man to switch emotional gears.

The second piece that stood out was, as women we are always interrupting one another. We jump in and finish each other’s sentences. Perhaps it’s our collaborative nature.

But, men would like us to know that even though we are usually right, we should wait until they have finished speaking before interrupting. They like feeling that they have been heard.

So ladies, we need to embrace these Dogs and tweak our communications for maximum efficiency. Small changes, such as giving men time to process their feelings and not interrupting, are easy to do, and will significantly improve your communication. Give yourself a challenge and try these two tips this week, and see what happens!

Don’t Neglect Your Feminine Energy

 

We live in a society that thinks work is far better than leisure. You aren’t praised for going on vacation, you’re praised for all the overtime you put in. You get the evil eye if you take a long lunch, and a pat on the back if you work through lunch. You’re not admired for taking time for yourself, you’re admired for juggling a million things going on in your life. “How does she do it all?” “Wow, she really has her stuff together!”

It’s quite sad, if you think about it. And, unfortunately, not only does it make our existence less enjoyable; it actually impacts our health and our relationships.

Dr. Sara Gottfied’s research shows when women stay too much in their masculine, it wreaks havoc with our hormones. Staying in the masculine means more competition, more ambition, more systems and procedures, and more stress. And when we’re stressed, cortisol, a steroid hormone in our bodies, is released. Gottfied believes that the “new crack” is cortisol. If we’re constantly stressed and too much cortisol is being released, it has negative, and often serious, consequences to our health.

Learning how to engage both the masculine and feminine is what ends up making us whole. You need both of these energies as your power sources. They are necessary tools for shaping your life.

balanceWhen women have too much masculine energy, we get overwhelmed and burn out. Feminine energy is needed for balance. Whereas masculine energy is all about competition, ambition, and systems, feminine energy allows us to see the bigger picture, is collaborative, and chooses things based on feelings.

And it goes both ways—too much feminine energy and you might be saying, “I’m confused, and not able to get things done.”

It doesn’t always have to be a 50/50 split, either. When you’re at work or need to get things done, you might be 70 to 80% in your masculinity and 20 to 30% in your femininity. Everyone’s ratio is a bit different, but when you come home, you need to be able to flip it for your wellbeing, for your health, and for your relationships.

Women are becoming more masculine in their energy, and in order for men to connect with women, they are becoming more feminine. We are losing that polarity. We are just existing as friends and wondering where that spark went. You need that polarity to want a roll in the hay!

We are trying to be too much, which is masculine and becoming less juicy. Without time to reflect and self-care, which is feminine energy, leisure researcher Ben Hunnicutt says, “We starve the capacity we have to love.” When we are too much in our masculine, we over-give and we are overwhelmed. Wear and tear happens in our bodies. There is a cost.

You can give up this cloak of struggle by turning up your feminine energy and by giving yourself permission to experience pleasure, comfort, and peace.

Like I said earlier, we live in a world that celebrates you for how hard you work, how busy you are, and how much multi-tasking you are capable of. Not surprisingly, it’s a world that celebrates masculine energy over feminine energy. Pleasure is a lot like Cinderella. She never gets the proper invitation to the party. And just like the stepsisters, everyone feels a little funny hanging out with her.

It is not a luxury. It is a necessity. The women who take my boot camp send a pleasure-a-day to the group every day for two weeks. They look actually radiant when they come back—after even one week! They start looking forward to and anticipating things that will be exciting.

So what would you do for pleasure? Where do you find ease? What gives you comfort? Do not be roped into what our society deems praise-worthy. Take care of yourself, tap into your feminine energy, and start living a healthy and enjoyable life!

An Engaged Life

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Imagine you were given a small, plain houseplant. You watered it regularly, made sure it had enough light, fed it fertilizer, and maybe you even played music for it. Over time, the plant grew strong and bloomed. It became beautiful and it filled you with joy every time you looked at it.

Now imagine that you forgot about that plant. You forgot to water it and it drooped. It started looking pretty sad, so you put it in a dark corner. It wilted and turned brown. Leaves fell off. You threw it out in the trash. And you missed out on that joy it would have brought you.

This is your life. This is everything in your life. If you do not care for things, engage in everything around you, they will wilt, and you will miss out on many opportunities.

Deepak Chopra, renowned doctor and writer, states, “The moment you stop interacting with anything, show indifference toward it, or even just go through the motions—whether it is a relationship, activity, or object—is the moment it starts to become less relevant to your life and starts to wither away” (43). Contrary to that, when we purposefully engage with relationships, activities, or objects in a positive and caring way, those things in our life will grow.

Think about a relationship that’s important to you. It may be positive or negative. Now, what would happen if you paid more attention to it? What would happen if you communicated more often? Or if you did kind things for the other person? If you told them something about themselves that made you happy? Chances are, the relationship would yield more blossoms, rather than wilt.

Of course, it’s hard to change. If you’ve always just called your mother on holidays and birthdays, it may be uncomfortable to start calling every Sunday. But think of it this way: Chopra tells us, “Our brains literally lose the capacity to expand, adapt, transform, and evolve if not challenged. As a result, we doom ourselves to a world of repetition, boredom, and stagnation.” Does “repetition, boredom, and stagnation” sound like something you want to perpetuate in our short time here on earth? Chopra goes on to say, “We settle for something far more predictable because it feels safer, even if it dulls our very experience of being human” (NEED PG #).

So, yes, it’s safer to keep doing what you’re doing. You know the outcome, if it’s something you’ve always done. But if you truly want to grow and have a richer, more fulfilling life, you need to engage.

We are all connected to each other. And not just to people, but the world around us. Chopra states that the wisest “look at the trees as their lungs. If the trees didn’t breathe, they would not breathe. And if they did not breathe, the trees would not breathe” (34). Realize that every one of your actions affects everything around us. When you realize that, you may want to consider what you’re putting out there. Is it negativity? Indifference? Is this what you want your surroundings to become?

I hope the answer is no. To make positive changes in your life and that which surrounds you, you must be purposefully engaged. Pay loving attention to the people in your life, start to care for things you may have inadvertently neglected, and get in the game! Become truly involved in your life. Don’t just wait for things to happen to you. Be the catalyst of your life. You are the one responsible for change and growth.