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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
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
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
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
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
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
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
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…
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 …

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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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