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9 Ways to Prepare Your Heart for a New Love in 2015

9 Ways to Prepare Your Heart for a New Love in 2015

Finding new love can be a daunting dream.

You want to fall in love but the way your last relationship ended hurt and the fear of that happening again haunts you. It feels much safer to stay alone or believe that love will find you if it’s meant to. But the question is — would you be ready if the right opportunity suddenly stared you in the face? Ready to receive and to give and hold and accept the good with the bad?

Most of us are not, which causes us to run or make a bad choice because we are afraid we will be alone if we pass it up. So, start preparing your heart before Mr. or Ms. Wonderful show up. Here are 9 ways to do that.

1.  Get serious by writing it down.

Find yourself a beautiful journal. Start by writing your favourite love poem into the front. When you are done, put your hand over your heart and feel it beating. Forget you are afraid. Forget you think it won’t happen. Go behind the beating and feel what your reaction to the poem is.  Write down everything that your heart says it wants to hear from someone someday. You don’t have to tell anyone — it’s just for you alone.

2.  Learn to listen with your heart.

Ask a friend to go out for dinner to a special restaurant you have been wanting to go to. While you are with her (or him), practice listening for their heart. This will begin to train you for how to  listen on a date. Pretend there is a bridge running from your heart to hers or his. Walk across it, leaving your own thoughts behind and just be in their thoughts while you are with them.

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Listen for phrases like, “I wish…”,  “Sometimes it seems that…,” “I love it when….” Ask questions so that they share something that they might not talk about often. Smile at them and if you don’t know how to respond, just acknowledge how that must make them feel, such as, “That must have been really hard for you….” Do your best to keep the focus on them out of caring and interest. Talk about yourself a little less than usual.

3.  Watch a romantic movie and observe what it is your heart longs for in love.

Yes, this can apply to guys too.  Instead of feeling sad about being alone or not having the love you want, go into your heart by placing your hand gently over it to feel it beat. Go beneath the beating to the feelings inside it. Ask yourself: What qualities do I want that the guy or girl in this movie had? What attracted me to the man or lady in this story?  Or if not the qualities, what did they say or do that made my heart wish? Do I want those qualities in someone I would like to have love me?  Do I want to hear those words, have that feeling, be able to open my heart like that?

Use the movie to teach you, to train your heart to know what it wants. Write your thoughts and your lists into your journal for safekeeping.  This is just for you and your heart to know.

4. Tie your deepest dreams to something you see everyday.

Decide that this next year is going to be different, that you are going to find every reason you can to believe in yourself, if it takes you until 2016 or infinity and beyond… that you are going to find love again.

Find a symbol that represents that commitment — something that you can keep out all year where you will see it everyday for the next year — to remind yourself. I used to carry a rock in my pocket that said “Believe” on it. I also bought myself figurines that I placed all over my house representing strong qualities I wanted. Don’t feel the need to tell anyone; it’s just yours to know, to believe in. Use it to convince yourself: “I am going to learn to love and appreciate who I am.”

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5.  Teach yourself to give without expecting anything in return.

There are so many ways to give. Did you know that, if you step outside yourself for a few moments, and give something to someone without expecting anything back, it will skyrocket your serotonin (the feel good hormone in your brain)? You will be left with a sense of fulfilment that creates a deep contentment. Walk yourself to the store and buy several pairs of socks to donate to the local shelter, bake a batch of cookies and take it to someone lonely, volunteer at the soup kitchen… do something, no matter how small, to make someone else feel good.

Be a Secret Santa, even if it isn’t Christmas. And expect nothing — not a thank you, not a smile, not anything. Just give to give. This, too, is practice for loving someone special in your life. There are many times when true love is giving “just because” without expecting anything back. You will need that skill. Giving without expectation builds your heart to meet a need that we all have, whether you know it or not  Have fun and let your creativity flow!

6. Ramp up your attraction factor — do something to make you feel better about yourself.

Do you know what a man finds sexiest on a woman? It’s her smile. A sincere smile from a contented heart causes you glow without you even knowing. Do you know what the main qualities are that attract a woman to a man? Being strong and tender all at the same time. A woman’s smile and a man’s true strength radiate from a confident heart. So what is something that would assist you in building your confidence? Picking up an old dream and signing up for a class? Learning something new? Planning to do something on your own that you had hoped to do with your partner?

Start with simple ways – for example, for most women, feeling pretty is part of that. Book yourself a manicure, a pedicure, go for a new hairstyle, buy yourself something colorful (great sales on this time of year) — do something that makes you feel just a little prettier. For a man, a haircut does help a lot. Perhaps renewing that gym membership and starting to work with a trainer to begin building up some of that great muscle would be the ticket. You know yourself, and your heart needs to know you are still alive. That you are not only alive, but gorgeous and gifted and lit up when your heart is invested in becoming all you can be. You are a long way from being knocked out of the game, baby!

So start moving forward — progress, not perfection, is happiness.

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7. Transform your bedroom into an inviting boudoir.

Many of us don’t think about whether someone special would fit into our bedrooms. Take the time to consider how you would like to change some things in your “inner sanctum” that would remind you that love is welcome here: get rid of stuffed animals, dirty laundry spilling out everywhere, or anything that is cluttered and worn. Right now it’s yours, yes, but someday it may be yours and his or hers. It’s fun to dream but it’s even more fun to take action. Pretty up your bedroom by adding some color, perhaps a new comforter, and complimentary curtains… maybe buy some candles.

8. Plan your focus: what will you think about, talk about, work for?

Time to make a plan. Remember, if you don’t write it down, chances are it won’t happen. Decide specifically how you are going to spend your time when you are not working or caring for family. You owe this to yourself. Your heart needs a break from its sadness. What will you think about? What will you focus on? It’s okay to give yourself a little time to grieve what was and how you wish it were. Sometime when you are alone, write those feelings down in your journal or express them in some other creative way original to you like writing a song, painting, or composing a poem. Then close your book or purposely set your project aside.

Go from there, determined to focus on one moment at a time today, every day.

If you are with family, observe what it is that you really do love about them. If you are with friends, do the same. Be there entirely in the present — not in the past, not in the future. Really look at what is bright and beautiful around you. Stare at a star. Squint your eyes to see how different they look when you do. Listen to the music you are hearing — hear the instruments, the beauty of the voices, feel the feelings it brings. Find something warm to hold in your heart. Your child’s laughter. The kind feeling you have when you pay for the person’s coffee behind you in the drive through coffee shop. A casual thank you received.

9. Allow your heart to dream again. Put it out there by asking specifically for what you want in love.

Take some time to dream. Divorce may have broken your heart and you may think that it has left you as damaged goods. You may think that love is too scary to try again or that there are no more good men or women out there.

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But you are wrong! Someone is searching for you, waiting to love and be loved by you. So find a picture that represents where you would like to be a year from now. Do you want to be in love?  Do you want to live in a new place? Do you want to be smiling? Begin to write down what you want. Start to learn about what a good relationship truly looks like. Dream it!

2015 is your year – go for it!

Featured photo credit: Copyright: konradbak / 123RF Stock Photo via 123rf.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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