Time to Talk - the power of conversation
Updated: Apr 27, 2022
"A good conversation can shift the direction of change forever". - Linda Lambert
All change starts with a conversation. It could be a solo chat with yourself or a discussion with others, and it's likely to be multiple conversations with both!
When I look back over the last 12 months I can recall the conversations that made the biggest impact on me. Those that helped me to consider my options and make decisions. Those that inspired me to challenge myself to be more courageous with my life. Those that helped me to make sense of how I felt. Those that brought me relief, joy and connection.
A conversation with Caroline last year resulted in the birth of Chrysalis Retreats and our first in-person retreat in Cumbria. Conversations have been instrumental in me moving house, taking on new projects, and deciding to have a baby.
It's not all about the big stuff either.
Conversations help to move things forward and can open up the door for progress. They inspire creativity and connection, helping us to make things happen. They also remind us that we’re not alone in this world and talking to others can help us to gain clarity and perspective when we're facing difficulties.
Thinking back over your life, which conversations do you hold dear? What do you remember about them? What impact did they have on you?
How can stress get in the way of good conversation?
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. The theme this year is 'community'.
When I think of community I think of the connection, support and joy I feel when sharing and learning with others. The shared interests, the breadth of experiences and perspectives. The friendships and tight bonds that have blossomed over time and that often started with one simple conversation.
Stress can affect us all in different ways and one of the first things I notice in myself and in those around me is that during times of stress my ability to effectively communicate takes a nosedive or does a disappearing act altogether.
Stress can cause our worlds to become a lot smaller as we try to navigate what is right in front of us, putting out fires and trying to keep a handle on things. Stress can mean that we are too busy to reach out to others for support and we may no longer be able to clearly see the benefit of doing so. We may worry that others have enough on their plate or that we’ll be judged on our inability to manage or cope. We may want to keep up appearances and not let others down. Pride, fear, shame and confusion can become the lens from which we look out to our community.
A problem shared...
'A problem shared is a problem halved' expresses the idea that, when experiencing difficulties it is useful to talk to someone about them.
Talking to others at times of stress helps me to gain perspective and often just hearing myself out loud can help me to better understand what I’m truly experiencing. Even thinking or preparing what I might say to a trusted friend or colleague can give me the space and time to explore my thoughts and feelings in more depth.
As talking and listening go hand in hand, finding the right person or people to talk to is often the first step. I am fortunate to have a number of trusted friends and colleagues and they all have a few things in common; they genuinely care about me and what is happening for me; they are excellent listeners; they encourage my thinking by giving me the space to talk out loud and they ask me questions that further stimulate my thinking. Priceless.
As humans we are hardwired to want to help others yet sometimes asking for help or sharing our thoughts and feelings can feel uncomfortable at best. This can be down to a number of factors, one of which being that we are also neurobiologically wired to care what other people think and this can get in the way of our ability and willingness to open up to others. Talking with someone you trust can help to alleviate these worries and create space for vulnerability and connection.
"Connection is why we’re here, it is what gives meaning and purpose to our lives" - Brene Brown
Have you ever had a life-changing conversation with someone that you just met? I know I have.
I was inspired to change my career after a chance encounter with a wonderful woman in a local bookshop. I'd already been thinking about it a lot but this conversation really cemented things for me and helped me to make the decision I had been wrestling with. I benefited from her experience, outlook and encouraging nature. Sometimes someone slightly removed or new can be just the breath of fresh air you need!
Conversations with myself
Our minds are constantly whirring with conscious and unconscious thoughts and beliefs that we hold about ourselves and the world around us. Often at times of stress, these thoughts can become more negative and our inbuilt negativity bias can start to fuel our minds with all that is wrong with us and everything around us. We’re on a path and it isn’t going anywhere fun or useful! The good news is that even just by noticing we’re on this path we have the opportunity to change it.
Positive self-talk isn’t about being overly optimistic or unrealistic, it's about noticing the language we're using and reframing it so that it is more useful to us.
For example, “I can’t do this, it’s too hard” could be replaced with “this is new to me, it's uncomfortable and challenging me to think differently”.
This is more likely to open up opportunities for further self-coaching such as “How can I help myself to navigate this challenge? Who do I know that could help me with this?”
When we reframe our language we can more easily play to our strengths and alter the weight of our challenges, helping ourselves to move forward.
There are many ways to observe and notice your self-talk patterns. Here are a couple of my favourites;
Journalling - I have been journaling for a few years now and find it to be a really helpful way of noticing if my self-talk is off balance and leaning towards negativity. Morning streams of consciousness work best for me as my thoughts haven't yet been edited meaning I get my freshest purest thinking first thing.
Voice recording - When writing feels like a chore I like to take myself out for a walk to reconnect with the outdoors and it always broadens my perspectives. When I have a lot on my mind I like to record my thoughts on my phone as hearing myself out loud often brings me greater clarity or further questions that move me forward. I very rarely listen back to the notes as the value is in the moment, in the talking out loud. Just like journaling, this helps me to capture unedited versions of myself so that I can see where my thoughts are focused.
How have you talked to yourself recently and what impact has that had on your life? How do you notice and alter your self-talk patterns?
Thanks for reading, hope to chat with you soon :)
Here at Chrysalis Retreats our vision is to support women to take a pause and reflect at key moments in our lives and clarify what’s important as we move forward. We recognize that women face specific challenges in life and in work that show up in times of transition or uncertainty, and we are here to guide and support women on their personal journey. Our retreats are designed to allow spacious time for reflection, to learn from each other and experience the joy of being in nature.
If you enjoyed reading this blog, please share with others and spread the word. We are all about women supporting women and keen to connect with other like-minded women.
If you want to get our blogs and other interesting stuff directly, then please sign up to join our list on our website and keep right up to date.