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During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M

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Presence: The Key to Trust and Connection

Photo credit Pixabay

What do I believe disconnects us the most from each other? A lack of presence. We have become more and more OK with being in the same room ignoring each other. My sons love to turn on the TV to a Simpson’s marathon and then scroll through their phones for the next hour. They barely make eye contact with the TV and rarely speak to each other during this time.

Photo credit pixabay

I have noticed more engagement with the TV and each other when we all watch a critical football game or Shaun White perform at the olympics. It takes significant events we don’t want to miss, to keep us present.

What is presence? It is an acceptance of what is, being open to life as it emerges, moment by moment.

It seems we treat much of life and our relationships like a Simpson’s marathon. We feel like it will always be there and it is not worthy of our full attention. With long-term relationships — including those with family members — we assume we know every nuance and go on autopilot.

Technology makes it so easy for us to drift to a screen versus making eye contact with someone who might expect something from us.

But this shortage of true presence is leaving us feeling empty and disconnected. It is difficult to feel loved and secure if we have not made eye contact or had a reflective conversation with someone in a week.

How do we get present with someone?

For the sensitive

For those of us with highly sensitive nervous systems, our innate strong reactions to novelty and stimulation (which are everywhere) can preoccupy us so much that they block our connection and ability to establish presence with someone.

But if we can learn to be present with our sensitive proclivities and in Dr. Dan Siegel’s words, see them as ” a natural human concern about newness and uncertainty”, we build resilience. We have to let our feelings or inner thoughts rise without attaching judgment to them. We let them unfold and dissipate, rather than giving them too much attention and energy.

For those with less sensitive natures, relationships and their external influence, play a major role determining ability to stay present.

Sifting to resonate

To attain presence with someone, all of us need to find a way to resonate with what is going on in their inner world. We can do that by using Dr. Siegel’s acronym, S.I.F.T. We can ask questions or listen for clues that tell us what Sensations the other person feels inside. We pay attention to the Images they mention. We take note of Feelings someone expresses or describes and lastly, ask about the Thoughts they experience. In essence, we create a space for them to reflect inwardly.

By SIFTing through another’s inner world and letting what we find affect us internally, we create resonance between us. We help them feel “felt”. Feeling felt or feeling seen, safe and soothed is the essence of secure attachment.

SIFTing and resonance lead to empathy, understanding and greater presence.

Stay open

It is easy to get lost in our expectations. We all have them. When we are not present, we are not open to what is happening as it happens. We expect the other person to conform to the outcomes we predict.

For example, our husband may usually be the kind of man who seems to have everything under control. He’s mentioned he hasn’t been hungry lately and you’ve noticed he’s losing weight but you assume he’s fine because he has not said anything is wrong.

Taking the time to be present with him by sitting close and looking into his eyes while asking how he’s feeling, could be the invitation he needs to share how he’s been worried about the slow down in business at work.

Just because things have been one way in the past does not mean we can rely on them to be the same in the future.

Stay open. Don’t get lost in what you expect. That can lead to missing important clues to the status of someone’s well-being.

Develop trust

By meeting someone where they are in their reflection process and giving them a safe space to explore and share what is going on inside of them, we connect with them and gain their trust.

The key is to start and stay with connection. It’s so tempting to start fixing or sharing our own story once someone reveals what they are thinking or feeling. It’s fine to share your own similar experience to show empathy or resonance but don’t get lost in your own tale. Stick with the other person’s experience.

It is also easy to slip into judging or concerning ourselves with someone’s external behavior. We want to give advice or correct a behavior that doesn’t meet our expectations, but this lessens presence and chips away at trust.

We preserve the connection and presence by responding to exactly what was shared — no deviations to defensiveness, our autobiography, behavioral correction, a totally different subject, or God forbid, our technology.


Have you noticed you’re on autopilot lately? What is one way you could improve your relationship presence? 


For those of you in the Minneapolis area, please save the date: March 10 from 4-6 PM. I’ll be at the local Barnes & Noble for a meet and greet. I’d love to meet you or catch up with you. 🙂








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  1. heartstemcellblog February 20, 2018 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    Hi Brenda: It was great meeting you last Sunday. Good luck with your book and thanks for another great article.

    • Brenda Knowles February 21, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

      It was great to meet you too! You made my day.:) Your name is Lori (sp.?) correct? I met a few people that day and I’m terrible with names so please forgive me if I’m wrong. I checked out your blog. You have an amazing story! I love your excitement and strength about where you are now. Ride that wave my friend.

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