HeartNote, January 16, 2019: What “Being There” really means.
There was a movie with Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine and Melvyn Douglas called, “Being There.” The premise was based on Chance the Gardener, played by Peter Sellers, kind of went with the flow of things. Life’s circumstances never moved him much. He continued to be himself, interacting with life’s events with an openness and gentle demeanor that allowed him to relate effortlessly with his environment and those he encountered.
He lead with his heart. To be present, this is the key. And it's divided into three parts:
Your feelings are the foundation of your presence, your presence is the foundation of healing another’s despair. And understanding is the foundation of your feelings.
The only way to truly be present is to allow yourself to move closer with your heart, and leaving your head in another part of the room. Your understanding isn’t there to make assessments. Your head doesn’t need to figure things out.
You just need to be present. Just be open to the heart of another, and let your understanding guide your empathetic expression of kindness.
This is not easy. Even in writing this, many of the definitions of these expressions overlap. That’s OK. If you get stuck, there’s a device I help people use to be fully present when they’re with somebody.
First, just watch their face. Look at them. Takes just a second. Just see if you can feel what’s going on with them from just your first glance. Then follow that up by just sitting quietly, again for a second, and take in their energy. I take one deep breath just to set myself, and take in their presence. It helps me be centered and focused on just them, just in that moment.
You then connect with them as you would any other. “How are you?” is the most common form of connection, but you can mix it up. “I’m so glad to see you,” “It’s so good to be with you,” and other pretty common statements of connection.
Then, the assessment comes in. You let them talk. You listen. You begin to process what they’re saying, how it’s said, and the pauses between their words. You begin, then, to think about what you can say that might bring some peace and understanding to their feelings.
And this is when you respond. Your thoughts become words, and your words come from the heart. You pause a little, and speak those things that you feel would best ease their pain.
And from that response, if needed, you encourage them to continue, and that encouragement can come in the form of a question or a statement. For example, “How did that make you feel?,” “Oh, my, that must have been so painful for you.” Say something that will not only encourage them to continue, but offer encouragement and gratitude for their sharing.
This is how you become “there.”
And a side note: To remember that formula, use the first letter of each word: Watch, Experience, Connect, Assess, Respond, Encourage.
It connects one heart to another.