Do you ever nod your head in conversation as if you understood?
Meanwhile your mind is drifting off else?
Here’s a way to tune in…
Take a race car on the race track, and you’ll be flying.
Take the same car on the streets of Chicago after a snow season, and, well… you’ll have a rough go.
The same can happen with our thoughts.
When having a hard time learning a new idea, following a conversation, or staying with an activity, the mind can wander off.
In the futile attempts to return from wandering, we might start to blame ourselves. We say we “just don’t get it” or some variant thereof.
Certainly, the years of schooling and teachers asking us to “pay attention!” do little to assuage the feelings. Even when a comment like “he’s intelligent, but doesn’t apply himself” comes around, there’s something about it that feels wrong.
Because maybe we did try; we did apply ourselves. So one conclusion we might arrive at is:
> “Maybe the intelligence isn’t there either, and they just haven’t figured that out about me yet.”
But the trouble is often *neither* because of a lack of intelligence or a lack of application.
In fact, intelligence can be very high.
Rather, it is often a difference in the speed of thought that can create difficulties. We might have a strong sense
– Where the teacher is going before they have completed their presentation
– Where a conversation is going before half a sentence is finished
– Where a movie is heading in its first few minutes
And so we struggle to hold on, because the ideas are bound to go somewhere we don’t know about yet, but they are getting there at what feels excruciatingly slow.
When thought goes so fast that it doesn’t connect, it seeks places to connect. It needs stimulation. Without it, we have boredom.
Meanwhile, boredom is not as simple or benign of an emotion as is often portrayed. For some, it’s frankly horrid. Without quenching its thirst, the mind searches on its own. Much like any emotion, it’s not easily suppressed.
When bored in conversation, the options become:
– attempt to suppress the boredom, which often results in daydreaming, and then losing the trail of the discussion
– interrupt the other person, which can often be interpreted as rude
– become confused with some point, which occupies all thought, and return to the above options.
One solution many find is to start nodding as if they understand with the hope that they will figure it out later or that the moment will pass.
To re-engage, it is useful to recognize that the desire for stimulation isn’t likely to go away without a direction. Further, we can use that stimulation for the creative fount that it is.
To find stimulation, we need to connect with our genuine selves, which is through can often be done through a question. Even a question as simple as “Huh?” can be grounding.
I’m a big fan of following with, “I’ve lost you. The last I remember you saying is…” and sometimes I’ll even describe where my mind went. Interestingly, where my mind went is often quite pertinent to what we were talking about, a neat association that lends to the discussion.
The process is no longer about learning or following a conversation. It’s now about tuning to each other’s wavelengths.