Welcome back to Restorative Grief with Mandy Capehart. You are listening to episode 78, titled, “Why You’re Not Healing As Fast As You Expect.” My friend, I’m gonna be honest with you. This has been a rough week. So this week’s episode is as much an offering for you as it is a reminder to myself. We as humans are used to being incredibly busy and productive. But in the face of grief and loss, mindlessness only serves to make our disconnection more obvious. So with this conversation, I am inviting you to become a mindful participant and discerning observer of what you take in and what you actually need.
If you are one of my email subscribers, you received an email this week about lists and simplifying all of the input we receive from experts down to something more manageable. although I usually find lists and collecting wisdom from the experts to be really useful, recently it’s been very overwhelming. I think when we get to that point of panic where we just want to feel differently, we start collecting insights and information hoping that at some point, it’ll sink in.
But when we have not done our own work around our core values and what we’re moving toward, all of that advice can fall flat. Sometimes we don’t know exactly when to stop collecting advice or which experts to listen to and that alone can leave us really overwhelmed. It is certainly true for me and going from your email responses, it’s true for a lot of you, too.
Mindful listening and learning is how we can assess if the line items on our to-do or to-be lists are in alignment with our values, but in order to do that well, we need to know what mindless listening or mindless engagement looks like. That way, we can recognize mindlessness when it shows up and gently redirect ourselves back to an embodied and present approach to grief work.
But even before that, I want to pause for a moment and invite you to come into this present moment with me. If you’re holding your phone, or anything else, set it down if you’re able. Take a deep breath through your nose and squeeze your shoulders up to your ears – on the exhale, slowly release your shoulders and breathe out like you’re pushing air through a straw.
Mindless listening, which we often do with podcasts, is all about multi-tasking. I’m the queen of it – you’ll find me habitually and unconsciously turning on my audiobooks or podcasts on auto-pilot when I’m ready to handle manual tasks like driving, cleaning, cooking. It’s not a bad thing, so don’t throw it away. It’s just that in this space of listening, we’re keeping general track of what we hear. Occasionally this means our mind will wander off-topic because we’re naturally inclined to focus on the task at-hand.
When we are mindless about the things we listen to, even if it’s another person speaking to us, we can lean toward self-criticism. It would be easy to discredit ourselves when our mind wanders. Because we are dealing with grief, our mind naturally wanders to ideas and solutions that might resolve the pain we feel. So if you are hearing this and it feels familiar, check that you’re being kind to yourself. What you’re experiencing is expected and typical of grief. When we are mindlessly engaging with ideas, people, or tasks that are out of alignment with our values, we are going to start out disconnected from the purpose and unconsciously create distance between the input and ourselves.
On the other hand, when we cultivate a practice of mindfully engaging and listening, we create an opportunity for relationship between ourselves as the listener and the speaker – even if WE are the speaker in question.
Mindful listeners are single-focused, connected to the input, refraining from judgment, and attentive. They are capable of staying present, allowing their full attention and intentions to engage with the information in a way that both validates the ideas and develops a more self-compassionate attitude toward their own present situation.
As grievers, we do our value work to determine what really matters to us. When our values are clear, we will more readily recognize when the sources we’ve collected no longer align with our current needs.
I know that in my life, I sometimes find it challenging to decide that a person’s work does not serve me any longer. I want to listen and engage to honor who they are and the work they do. But that also means I tend to hang on longer than necessary. If I’m not able to truly participate or learn from the advice or insight, am I really honoring them or myself by sticking with it?
This podcast is no different. As much as I would love to know that every single person in my life listens and learns from the show, I know that’s unrealistic even if every person I know is grieving.
I could be cheeky right now and challenge the fact that most people will tell you they aren’t grieving anything. Because for most of us, we’re still learning how grief shows up in our lives. But even if we all had clear awareness and mindfulness about our inner worlds, that still doesn’t mean my work is going to align with the values of each person I know.
Your mindful engagement with content helps limit your inputs and the checklist. It allows you to intentionally remove line items and requirements, inviting you to deeper empathy, self-awareness, and healthier relationships with your peers and the people you allow as so-called influencers in your life.
Before we go, I want to share for a moment what a mindful listener can do for someone like me. As a podcaster, I serve a big population of people I will never meet. The only way I know if I’m connecting with people where they’re at is if they reach out or leave reviews. Otherwise, I’m swinging in the dark at what kind of content or support this audience wants.
The other day, I received another review from a listener who was clearly mindful and intentional. Their feedback resonated with my purpose for creating and demonstrated that they share some core values with me. I get a few new reviews each week but this one remarked on how my story of losing my mom truly struck a chord with them. Among other things, they ended by saying that my work helped them know that what they are experiencing is normal.
There are a lot of things you can listen to that will make your human experience feel more valid, but often finding those places where you can feel resonance and attunement – real psychological safety in that connection – is difficult. Rather than invest all your time trying to determine what resources will work best for you, start with your own values. It’s much clearer to hold your value system up to a body of work and let the alignment or lack of alignment simplify your process than it is to listen to 12 hours of content before you realize, “Oh! This is not the person for me.”
Thank you for listening to episode 78 of Restorative Grief. One of my favorite things to remind us of around here is that in all this work, you are the one that chooses what you keep. You get to find what serves and leave the rest behind. Or put another way, chew the meat and spit out the bones.
Discernment or discretion, which is much of what we’re talking about here, can actually be a core value if you’d like. Keeping a healthy dose of caution at the forefront of your mind when you interact with new information is one way to stay in the present moment as a listener. Instead of mindlessly internalizing all info as fact, you can allow yourself to turn it over in your mind, examine from all angles, and find out of it is advice for you in your current season or if the info gets permission to float on by.
If this is your first time listening to Restorative Grief, I would be honored to hear from you from a review of your own or through social media. I’m active on Instagram and Twitter under @MandyCapehart and connecting with people impacted by the work makes a huge difference. Speaking of, thank you again to my Patrons and financial supporters of the show. If you’re interested in gaining some bonus content and becoming a patron, you can look me up on Patreon or become a premium subscriber on Spotify. Either way, be sure to subscribe to the show so you never miss out on our weekly episodes.
And before we go, as always, one last thing: Please remember, the only solution for grief is to do the work of grieving. Thank you for listening. I’ll see you next week.
Links + Resources for this episode:
- Work with Mandy
- Become a Patron of the show!
- Join the Restorative Grief Project
- Purchase my book, Restorative Grief
- Follow & chat with me on Twitter or Instagram @MandyCapehart