Presence creates connection. And we all want connection. In this episode, I give 10 practical tips for building your presence muscle.
FULL SHOW NOTES
Happy 4th of July! I hope you are enjoying great weather, good food and appreciation for this amazing country of the United States of America.
I want to share a secret with you: I would love to have 10,000 downloads by Jan 1, 2023. I’m at about 4800 right now, as of recording this episode, so we will have to more than double the current download rate, which as of this year is about 75 downloads a week. Why: For some reason, the Lord has put a mission on my heart. It includes talking about my life experiences, teaching psychological concepts, and discussing the gospel all for the purpose of… something. I don’t know exactly what it is, if I’m being completely honest! It has something to do with being our full, true selves and connecting with God. It has something to do with gathering Zion, with doing our individual work in the world. I’m not sure words can really encapsulate the mission I feel. SO… in an effort to use my total downloads number as some kind of metric for this mission I feel, I am going to incentivize you to leave a rating, a review and share the podcast with others. On Episode 100, I am going to announce a winner. The winner will receive a pair of 2nd generation Apple airpods. AND if the winner was referred to the podcast by a friend, their friend will also get a pair of apple airpods! What better prize for podcast listeners, right? In order to qualify for the prize, you must do 3.5 things: 1. Listen to at least one episode. 2. Leave a 5 star rating (I mean, I’ll accept any star rating, but I’m only gonna send a prize to someone who really loves the podcast!) 3. Leave a review (.5) with at least one takeaway- something you learned, something you thought was interesting, something you liked— don’t make it complicated, this is basically just a way for me to ensure that you really did listen to the podcast! and 4. fill out a google form. Feel free to share with social media friends to increase your odds of winning! Here is a picture to share on your social media:
OK, onto the regular episode. I want to talk about the power of presence.
But first, what brought me here, talking about presence?
One thing I like to do, and probably fail mostly at, is to simplify things. One of my life mottos is simple does not mean easy. And while that is true, simple and difficult is better than complex and difficult. So, the last year or so, as I’ve been on my own healing journey I’m always looking for simple explanations. Elegance would be the word used in science. And one day, I realized that the most important thing as a coach is the energy I bring to the coaching experience, and the energy I want is presence. I think it’s also the energy we want just as people in the world. As parents and spouses and friends and saints. We want to be present.
So what is presence?
The online dictionary definitions were severely lacking in my opinion. For present as an adjective, Miriam Webster’s dictionary says, “now existing or in progress” and “being in view or at hand.” Yes, now existing or in progress, but that doesn’t really capture the full meaning of present when I say we want to be present as people. And being in view or at hand… well, we all know someone can be there without being there.
What I am referring to is a physical, mental and emotional presence. In fact, the physical presence is the least of it. I coach my clients over zoom. I’m not physically present, and yet I hope I still have presence. I found it ironic that in the Miriam Webster’s online dictionary, it listed an “obsolete” definition as “attentive.” I think that might actually be the most accurate definition of what I am speaking of. It’s a mental and emotional attentiveness. A being-ness that is here, now.
Why do we want to be present?
Think about this in whatever context makes sense for you. If you are a coach, think about it in your coaching. If you are a mom, imagine being present with your kid. If you have a career where you go away from home to work, you might think of it in the context of your co-workers or employees. You could even think about presence with friends or in other relationships. But choose a relationship that matters to you, one maybe that you are currently working on.
Imagine them present with you and then imagine them not being present. What difference does it make to you?
A lot of difference, right? When they aren’t present with you, there is a connection lacking. They might not be totally disconnected, but an element of connection is missing.
Connection. That’s what we are all always wanting.
Presence creates connection.
My hunch is that we all want to be seen and loved for who we truly are. If there is something in us WE can’t be present to, nobody else will be able to be present to it either, because we will hide it away. But even when someone is willing to see and love us for who we truly are, that’s something.
There are other reasons why you might want to practice presence though.
Do you suffer from anxiety or depression? Do you have chronic pain of any kind? Are you lonely or overwhelmed? Do you find yourself worrying a lot? Do you want to feel more connected to God? Practicing presence can help with all of these things!
How do we know if we aren’t present?
We are always present to something (unless we are asleep), but for this episode we are thinking about that relationship that is important to us, we the real question is What keeps us from being present in the relationship?
- Our own inner worlds- whatever is going on for us in our mind or emotionally.
- Interest- maybe more under distraction though
- our own egos
- pain – too much too fast
- inadequacy – not enough for too long
- Our outer worlds
- other people’s drama
- distraction and entertainment
Connection takes focus. It takes effort. It takes time and attention.
How to cultivate presence?
This article claims we have at average attention spans less than that of a golfish!! 8 seconds!
It has been said that one of Satan’s greatest tools is distraction. It seems he has lulled the average person into extreme distraction if our attention spans are only 8 seconds long!
So how to we cultivate presence? We practice. Like last week, I encouraged you to practice your desires. Because presence is a skill. Some people naturally have it, and others need to work harder to develop it.
Practice being in the here and now, whatever it is. Practice being with someone and not trying to think of the next question. Not trying to come up with a “valid” counter-arguement. Not being in the past or in the future. Not wanting to look at your phone. <What is so compelling about our phones, anyway? Parents— my single greatest mistake in parenting was allowing my oldest child to have a phone when she was too young (12) and then not paying close enough attention to her activity on the phone. Heck- my greatest mistake was probably getting a smart phone myself!! You know what it is? Every time we get a new bit of information, we get a little dopamine hit in our brains. Because— connection. The very thing we want can and will work against us!>
Here are a few other practical tips on way to build your presence:
- Have a digital sunset and sunrise. Have space between the time you wake up and the time you connect yourself to the outside world. Whether this is your smartphone, the TV, radio, etc. Connect to yourself and the real people around you first. Similarly, have space between connecting with the outside world and when you fall asleep. This one is hard for me, but I’m working on it. I’m working on separating myself from the allure of my phone more and more. I notice the less I pick up my phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night, the less of a draw it is for me. There is science to back it up, but that’s beyond the scope of this episode.
- Meditation. I am a huge fan of meditation. I think it helps us lengthen the time between stimulus and response. I think it helps us to connect to ourselves and God (prayer is a form of meditation). It slows us down, which is exactly what we need when we are practicing presence. Definition: to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. Heck! I don’t even think spiritual awareness is the purpose, but as the author Rob Bell says, Everything is Spiritual.
- Journal. Journaling, for me, is a kind of meditation. It causes me to slow down and reflect and be with myself. It’s a presence builder.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is practicing placing our attention on our senses. Mindfulness requires you to be with what is in the current moment. Let’s try it: what are 3 things you can see right now? What are 3 things you can hear right now? What are 3 things you can smell right now? What are 3 things you can feel right now? And the most difficult, unless you happen to be eating— what are 3 things you can taste right now? I’m going to add one here— What is 1 thing the Spirit is saying to you right now? I think our intuition or “the Spirit” is actually a 6th sense.
- When you are in relationship with someone, this could be a conversation or not, practice being really curious about them. Allow yourself to wonder and resist the urge to center yourself in the conversation or in your curiosities.
- Be in nature. But really be there.
- This is going to sound very life coach-y of me, but— feel your emotions. Our inner worlds, and especially our negative emotions, are the biggest thing that keep us from being present. We don’t like experiencing negative emotions, so our clever brains will do pretty much anything to keep us from being with them. BUT when we can be present to our emotions, they process through and then don’t take as much of our attention, and thus they don’t keep us from being present.
- Bring yourself back the present moment when you notice you are thinking about the past, the future or how you feel. Do this 100 times, and I promise you will be more present in your life and in your relationships!
- Stop trying to multi-task! Presence is the very opposite of the productivity. It is NOT being productive.
- Breathe. Combine this with #8 bringing yourself back to the present moment when you notice you aren’t here. Breath in and out through your nose three times every time. It will slow your physiology down and give your brain a message that you are safe now.
My challenge to you this week is to notice when you are present and when you are not. Notice when others are present to you and when they are not. Awareness is probably going to be the first step for most of us. I’ve given you reasons and tools once you have that awareness and want to start being more present and connected to the people who mean the most to you.
If you are a coach listening to this episode, I want to let you know that I am launching a small group program that is all about cultivating presence as a practitioner. Go to denitabremer.com/for-coaches to get more information. We start September 7th and I will only be inviting max 8 coaches to join me for this intimate mentorship experience. We will be practicing coaching and me mentoring you along the way to increase our presence while we are coaching. There is a pretty awesome bonus for those who sign up by tomorrow, so if this piques your curiosity, don’t hesitate to check out the details!
If you are NOT a coach, but a mom or someone else who wants to cultivate presence in your relationships, I’m considering creating a small group program for you too. Here’s where you can join an interest list. You can get on that list and that will let me know how much demand there is for this kind of thing. You can also sign up for a free session and we can get you started. The more I think about increasing presence, the more I think it is the antidote to all the bad in the world, and the key to being our full selves and connected to God.
Thank you for coming with me on this mission. Thank you for listening. Thank you for helping me get the message out.