In the therapy world – attunement is a popular phrase. It revolves around your ability to connect and sense what is happening within your client. Attunement in the general public can look like – knowing what your partner needs before they ask, sensing that a friend is down – even if they put a smile on.
Attunement is a powerful skill that requires we are fully present in the moment with the person across from us. It requires that we put our own agenda and past experiences aside to learn and get curious with this person. We can practice different ways of attuning with ourselves to create more self-connection as well.
When Attunement goes Wrong
There are many things that can create ineffective attunement. When our attunement is based off of our own life experiences, it is more likely that we are projecting what is happening with ourselves internally onto another person. This creates room for assumptions and often starts arguments. We often feel like we “know” what is going on, even though we have not checked in with ourselves to see what is surfacing internally.
When attunement goes wrong, there are often arguments, judgments and blaming. People start to feel less connected, more disengaged and defeated. We must make room for these emotions, and recognize that they push us into survival mode. This means when we are projecting over attuning it is common for the other person to get defensive and reactive. In turn, they may struggle to hear what you have to say.
The same happens for many of us internally. We become reactive to our own emotions, often believing that we are supposed to feel or think in a different way. This leads to, shutting ourselves down, and believing and looking for external validation or confirmation of our beliefs.
Personal Attunement & Self-Connection
Personal attunement is doing the above for yourself. It is an act of self-compassion in which you are looking inward, connecting with whatever emotions/thoughts/beliefs are surfacing, and getting curious. To become personally attuned means that we are putting down the judgment and assumptions of our emotions. We work on engaging in a more present and mindful self-connection.
Personal attunement is the effort of slowing down when things are tough. It’s noticing sooner than later when you need more self-care or a break. It is actively taking care of yourself on a day-to-day basis because you are aware of your needs. It is treating yourself like a human being, instead of a machine.
Sounds Great – Now What?
Engaging in personal attunement can be challenging. Often, we have past trauma or subconscious thoughts that rule our actions. This means we walk through each day reacting to our lives rather than responding to what comes up. The key to self-connection is slowing down and becoming more mindful. There are many ways that this can be done.
- Journaling :
Daily/Weekly/Monthly journaling can start to support you in becoming more aware of thoughts/patterns in your actions and beliefs to create more self-connection. The key with journaling is no matter what you decide to write about – returning to the journal to look it over is important in creating self-connection. This observation of your thoughts/beliefs helps you become aware of your own patterns and starts the road map of what you may need to take care of yourself. If you need more tips on where to get started with journaling click here.
Meditation is a great way to start creating personal attunement and self-connection. There are many different types of meditation. For self-connection, I recommend RAIN by Tara Brach, Self-Compassion Break by Kristin Neff. Both of these meditations support you in connecting with emotions that may be hiding underneath the surface. They will guide you in finding what you need for support.
- Active Self-Care
Self-care is something that is ever-changing. One day it could mean a bubble bath, another day it could be setting boundaries with a family member or pushing yourself to workout because your body needs movement. Active self-care is the act of checking in daily, seeing what your day holds, and asking yourself what taking care of yourself would look like. When our day is packed – this could be taking off the pressures of extra to do’s. If we know that we have a challenging day ahead of us, it may be asking ourselves – what will help me walk into this day with the most compassionate and positive energy possible?
Here are some examples of active self-compassion & self-care for self-connection:
Patrice Flanagan-Morris, LCSW
Empowerment Within LLC