It’s an offering with the power to add depth and compassion to the way you and your partner relate.
It’s something I treasure when I experience it in my own relationship.
Whilst it’s easy to describe, it is much harder to deliver – particular when you’re in danger of being triggered by what your partner is saying or doing.
What is Presence?
It’s a quality of attention that means:
- being in the here and now – not thinking about the past or the future (think of a dog with its eyes glued to a piece of meat in your hand.)
- tuning in to what your partner is saying, thinking, feeling and needing – without judging it, evaluating it and finding it wanting
- being aware of your own needs, but able to put them temporarily to one side so that you can focus on your partner.
Why is it so precious?
It’s because it speaks to our deepest needs.
- It says ‘you are important’.
- It says ‘you matter to me’.
- It says ‘I want to understand you and will give you my time and attention’.
- It creates a safe space in which people can hear themselves think and speak.
Why is it so difficult to give?
Here are some possibilities – I wonder if you recognize yourself in any of them.
- We hear that there’s a problem – and we’ve got the solution to solve it – so we stop listening.
- We hear the expression of painful feelings – and we want to sooth and reassure – so we stop listening.
- We get triggered by what we hear – so we stop listening.
- We hear more detail and words than we want and we get impatient – and we stop listening.
All the time we are engaged with our own thoughts, we stop listening. And when we stop listening, we are no longer fully present to another person.
What can you do?
- Start with the intention to be fully present.
- Notice when your mind wanders. Acknowledge the thoughts without judgment and let them go.
- Bring yourself back to being present.
It’s such a simple practice – but so very challenging to do. Give it a try and see what happens.