Is this destructive habit preventing you from having deeper, more meaningful relationships?

by / Tuesday, 12 August 2014 / Published in Blog

As a kid, I craved deeper, more meaningful relationships, and yet, I didn’t quite know how to create them. It wasn’t until I started Tribal Truth, that I discovered the secrets to true intimacy between me and another human being.

Where you connect soul to soul.
Where you feel like you really know this person standing in front of you.
Where the mask is removed.

Over the past 4 years, I’ve created a tribe of conscious people around me whom I have meaningful conversations with to consistently connect on a deep level.

I didn’t quite realize the depth of what I had created until this past weekend.

There was a dirty, destructive habit – unbeknownst to my acquaintance – that prevented her from connecting with me and my beloved while we were in Colorado.

And what is that habit, you ask?


We are constantly interrupting each other and not even present to it.

Are you interrupting in any of the following ways?

a) Your friend is telling a story, and you immediately interrupt with questions to get the details you want to hear instead of letting your friend stay in her flow.

b) You finish your friend’s sentences.

c) You interrupt with much excitement because you completely relate with what your friend is talking about and want to share your own experience before she finishes.

d) You are multi-tasking while your friend is talking.

e) You ask your other friend a question in the middle of your friend’s sentence.

It was so frustrating for me to be sharing something only to be interrupted by my acquaintance asking for a beer, getting up to do something else, or just outright changing the subject right in the middle of my story.

I simply didn’t want to talk anymore. Not only did I feel like this person wasn’t interested in what I had to say, but I also felt like she had no desire to truly connect with me.

The thing is: she didn’t even realize that she was doing it.

She wasn’t present. At all. Which got me thinking …

how do we cultivate presence in a culture that has smart phone distractions, alcohol in social settings and marijuana legalized?

Presence is the key to successful relationships. When you are truly present, you connect deeper because the person sharing with you will feel safer to be more vulnerable, sharing what’s deep down in the well.

Here are five ways to be more present:

1) Listen without interjecting

The conscious person may think that they are being present by asking relevant questions or relating with their own experiences. I have a tendency of doing this because I feel so engaged in the conversation.

But it is actually preventing you from being 100% present.

Instead of wanting to get a word in, pay attention to the sensations in your body when you get excited. Feel them and let them be.

If you are worrying that you may forget what you want to say later if you don’t say it right now, you are missing the opportunity to really hear the person and create intimacy. And so what if you forget? It probably wasn’t that important anyway. Instead, allow yourself to just flow with the conversation and share what comes up when your friend is completely finished. Most likely, your question will be answered in the end anyhow.

2) Maintain eye contact

To prevent yourself from multi-tasking, maintain eye contact the entire time. Your friends will trust you more and share more. The eyes are the gateway to the soul. You’ll hear and understand more when you look into your friends’ eyes.

We are taught that it is rude to look people in the eyes. Bullshit. Intimacy is when you allow someone to see inside of you and vice versa, by making eye contact. It becomes easier over time the more you practice.

3) Sit still

This is perhaps the hardest thing for us to cultivate in our culture. We fidget. We have been taught to multi-task to be more efficient with our time. We want to keep moving to feel productive. When I tell people that I do Vipassana every year and sit in silence for 10 days, most people respond by saying they could never sit still for that long.

My mentor was sharing his secrets for facilitation at our last weekend for The School for the New Generation Leader, and he said the secret to his success was sitting still to listen fully. He sat there like a rock, giving you his undivided attention. He could then bring his awareness to both the sensations in his own body as well as watch with a meticulous eye what was happening with your body as you spoke. When he demonstrated the opposite – scratching his arm, looking around the room, biting his nails – it was such a contrast in the energy that everyone in the room laughed. This is why he is so effective in his work; he is present. People respect, trust and admire him because of his presence.

4) Breathe

The breath is critical to presence. It is our access point to being in the present moment, right now.

How often do you pay attention to your breath? Do you ever take the time to breathe deeply?

5) Take a technology break

We become addicted to our text messages, social media, and emails. We check our phones every two seconds. We can’t leave the house without them!

What would it do for you if you left your phone at home for a day? Would you be able to let go of the attachment and be present with your environment?

What if you took a break for an entire week?

This is one of the reasons why we are hosting our next retreat in Peru; to give you a break from the everyday distractions and focus solely on yourself and your healing. To cultivate the presence that is so critical to you having successful relationships. I’ve learned over the past few years that relationships are everything.

Your relationship with yourself.
Your relationship with others.
Your relationship with the world.

You do not exist in a vacuum. You exist in this tangible world where you are connected with all things. Relating constantly to what is outside of yourself as a mirror reflection of what’s within.

Your business depends on your relationship with others.
The amount of money you make depends on your relationship with others.

You are not alone.

And your presence is critical to successful relationships.

Take action today by leaving a comment: how will you cultivate more presence today? Will you leave your phone at home? Make eye contact in a conversation? Or eat more mindfully at dinner tonight? Share with us some of your tips so we can also learn from you!

3 Responses to “Is this destructive habit preventing you from having deeper, more meaningful relationships?”

  1. Tanya, Many thanks for another brilliant article. Although I am a good listener…there is always room for growth. I will begin to feel more deeply into my sensations (love that!) as I also focus on sitting more quietly, without fidgeting.
    Here is a related dysfunctional habit I see in myself and others: As soon as your friend completes their sharing…we often feel compelled to immediately jump in with a comparable, if not “better” (one upmanship?) story. For example, they just shared about the joy of learning tantric dance and now we feel compelled to tell them about our own sensual dance experience. Wouldn’t it be more gracious to allow them to just revel in their own experience without having to shift the focus onto ourselves? Snow Thorner, Virtual Sistership Facilitator

  2. Alexandra says : Reply

    Thanks Tanya!
    Listening, stillness, and presence. I aspire to these activities/beingness and I appreciate the clear everyday examples you’ve given here, of talking to a friend, multi tasking and interrupting… I think I have been doing some of these without recognizing it.

    Thank you!!

  3. Juliette says : Reply

    Hi Tanya… Thank-you for sharing. Your advice is spot-on. Being present is a daily practice, that I try to maintain, daily…with all. The Openness & sharing from others, when you are able to be present is the reward. I have found that reminding my self to “Just Stop” & Check Inn with my inner-self is a great Start – to this rewarding practice. 🙂

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