Why does your mind wander when you’re talking with someone? Here’s why — and how to get back into the conversation.
Yes, you say. I already know I’m distracted.
But why are you distracted? Is it because you have so many things swirling in your head at once? Too many things to do? These are certainly part of the problem. But there is something even more problematic than these relatively minor distractions.
You’re distracted because you’re afraid. It’s all right to say. Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you can’t be afraid. I’d be worried about you if you weren’t afraid. Fear is a natural part of being human. The question is: how can you channel your fear into desirable action?
Address the fear.
The fear is: Do I matter? Do I have anything valuable to say? Is anyone listening?
To move through this fear and act decisively, remember the principle of First Things. In particular, when it comes to staying actively engaged in a conversation, remember this:
You come first. This is counter-intuitive, but stay with me. In the heirarchy of relationships, you are number one. This may be contrary to what you learned growing up. You may have been taught by your parents, who were probably taught by their parents, to put others before yourself.
But in the principle of First Things, you come first. Meaning, unless you are solid within yourself, everything else in your life will be out of focus, keeping you from staying centered where your focus is most needed. If you will keep your focus on who you are and what you want, you’ll have the mental energy to stay engaged when the other person is talking, and contribute value to the conversation when it’s your turn.
Tell your version.
Remember: it’s your life. A major reason you lose focus is because you listen to someone else’s version of who you are and what you should be doing, and get distracted by the disconnect between who they think you are and who you know yourself to be.
Don Miguel Ruiz put it this way in The Four Agreements:
Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.
To get out of this distracting loop, make the time to figure out your own story, and tell your own version of your own story.
If you want to stay engaged in a conversation, address the fear. Remember that your first relationship is with yourself.
Want more help?
I can help you address the fear of being misunderstood, so you can get back into the conversation.