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Dec 06, 2022


We live in an attention economy.  Have you ever been engaged in conversation with someone and either their focus was split with another attention-consuming commodity or their attention was prioritized by another task perceivably more exciting or fulfilling than your present conversation? Everyday as a therapist, I am met with the upset of a partner, friend or family member who feels that their importance in the world of their loved ones has been stolen by television, gossip magazines, or that toss-a-ball-at-a-can app that seems to zombify any participant. The marketing ploys of today's attention economy feed instant gratification and short-term adrenaline... but at the expense of developing and sustaining long-term social attachments and healthy communication skills. Regain the power of where / who / what you gift your attention to. Make sure that this energy loss is a voluntary choice and of benefit to you.  

Do you choose to make a conscious effort to stay present? If so, have you tried (to no avail) and what more can you do?

1. Practice Mindfulness. There are many forms of mindfulness. Try to focus on the experience of the now; what is going on around you and how your body is absorbing and responding to that energy. 

2. In social situations, practice staying present by trying the following tips. If you find your eyes glazing over and becoming blurry/ unfocused during conversation with someone, periodically shift your gaze from their left eye to the middle of their nose to their right eye and back. You can also try reading their lips to connect with the words you hear throughout conversation. This forces your vision to constantly adapt and focus on your preferred target. 

3. Practice Active Listening Techniques. These are communication tools that reinforce healthy processing and response:
Empathy   (Understanding how the person may feel in their own experience)
- Validation  (Affirming that the person's own perspective is always valid... even if you do not agree with it)
- Mirroring   (Direct reflection back of what they said)
- Paraphrasing or Summarizing    (A chunked review of their expression)
- Switching     (Asking if the other person is finished with their thought before beginning yours)

4. Know your bodies' needs and ensure that you are meeting its stimulus threshold, specifically for those that struggle with symptoms of ADHD or ADD. I KNOW that you have seen those fidget spinners in the hands of school-aged children. Perhaps you have even been hit by one flying surreptitiously through the air. Whether you use a nondescript item, such as a pen with a moveable thumb grip or a hair tie around your wrist that can be continuously bungeed, you are consciously increasing the stimuli around you which may enable you to remain present. 

Let us model for others how to gift our attention to what truly matters... each other. Good luck in your efforts!


Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist 

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