Each and every one of us craves some form of ATTENTION. In fact, it is a human need that we all have – to be seen, noticed, attended to, and recognised as we are, held in the gentle gaze of an open-hearted, non-judgemental other. While we can’t control the attention that another gives or doesn’t give us, we can certainly become more present and authentically attentive ourselves. We can choose to practice becoming more artful in our ability to love others.
So, what does it mean to be authentically attentive?
Being in this way means noticing and hearing our partner’s words, feelings, and experiences. It means noticing their whole being, becoming ‘attuned’ to what is moving for them, and being present with all that is expressed, verbally and non-verbally, without jumping in to fix, persuade, coerce, or compete.
It means developing and adopting a neutral stance towards feelings, suspending automatic judgements, releasing ideas of right and wrong, and becoming energetically receptivity to being influenced by what the other shares. It means allowing another to be exactly as they are, in that very moment. In some situations, it means sitting in any discomfort their expression brings up, without trying to manipulate the conversation so that we can feel more comfortable.
And why would we want to do this?
When we offer this gift of authentic attention, our partners feel deeply and truly heard and understood. Their perspectives, intuitions, and emotions are respected and valued. Trust and safety expand between us and ever-deepening truths can emerge, be sensed or felt, named and verbalised. More of who they are, authentically, is revealed. And in this deeper intimacy is experienced and our love matures.
Next time your partner starts talking to you, STOP what you are doing, take a few deep breaths, and be FULLY present to all that they reveal to you. Allow yourself to fully hear them, with your whole body, catch yourself if you find yourself formulating an answer or turning the conversation onto yourself. Invite curiosity within yourself, ask gentle questions, find out more about what they are telling you about.
Afterwards take a moment to reflect. What was it like? Did you find it hard or easy? Did you notice or learn something new about them and or yourself? Did the other notice your attention and respond? Can you feel or see the value of this skill for building your relationship?