A Warm Connection, Part II: Training Your Hamsters

by Reid on October 19, 2013

FYI, I went to art school and I drew this. Enjoy!

FYI, I went to art school. And I drew this. Enjoy!

In the last article, we talked about one way to create warm connection quickly: Presence.

Have you been practicing being present with people? Noticing when your brain goes off on it’s own, and bringing it back to the conversation? Noticing your toes, and the color of their eyes?

Even a little bit of practice can make a huge difference in how people respond to you.

People are really starved for present, meaningful connection. They want to be seen and heard, and will naturally seek out/be drawn to the person who helped them feel that way.

Today, I’m going to share a tip to take that to the next level. AND it can make being present easier…

Tackling Your Squeaky Hamster Wheel of Death!

You’ve probably heard me talk about the hamsters in our heads and what I like to call The Squeaky Hamster Wheel of Death. I use the term “Wheel of Death,” because this dynamic kills connection and one’s ability to be present.

My “hamsters” are the negative voices and thoughts I think about myself. When I feel insecure and small, my hamsters crawl out of the dark recesses of my brain, climb up on their squeaky hamster wheels, and run and run, making lots of negative noise in my head. My hamsters are constantly making up stories and the more they run, the stronger and louder these stories get. Our hamsters tell us scary stories to get us to stay small, to disempower us. They tell angry stories about what people might do to us. And they make up stories about the people we meet all under the guise of “protecting us” because the smaller we are, the less likely we are to be spotted and harmed.

We really can’t help making up stories. It’s part of the human condition. We all have hamster infestations.

Think you don’t do this? A lot of people don’t even notice they’ve got hamsters because they’ve always had ’em. Our hamster voices have a tremendous effect on our self-esteem and how we react to and treat people. To test your own personal “hamster effect,” look around at a person you don’t know, or go to a random page on the internet with a picture of a someone. As you’re looking at them, see if you can notice your hamsters chattering away on their squeaky wheels. What kind of story are they building? What are the voices in your head telling to you? “Wow, why did she wear that?” “Does he even know that he’s doing X, Y, Z?” “She must be ________.” Humans normally create stories to explain what we see, and we fill in the blanks with pure fiction.

Hamsters may be annoying, but it’s possible to harness your hamsters to help create warmth and connection. Yes, you can use your hamster wheels for good!

How? By training your hamsters to make up GOOD, POSITIVE stories about the people you’re talking to.

Since our minds are going to make things up anyway, why tell a negative story when we can, with a little bit of practice, just as easily make it a good one?! (And the real truth is this: most people are heroes, fighting each day to do the best they can, to make a positive difference. Most people don’t want to hurt us. So, the good story your hamsters make up is probably more true than the mean, resentful stories!)

Once you train your hamsters to make up good stories, it’s easier to stay present, to connect. The people you’re connecting with become more fun and interesting because your hamsters are telling you they are! People LOVE sharing about themselves, especially to a present, warmly connected person, and it’s easier to ask a person questions about themselves when you think they’re interesting. Trying to connect with someone you’ve decided is not worth it takes waaaaaay more effort than connecting with someone you’re curious about. We begin to get less engaged, less connected with those we think less of. The warmth, ease and enthusiasm wanes. We get exhausted and resentful, and the people sense this. Their experience of us influences their thoughts and feelings about us, reinforcing the negative hamster stories that they are having about US!

No wonder it’s so easy to leave people feeling unseen and unheard when our hamsters are running the show!

Change what your hamsters are saying about folks and your world and the people in it become more engaging and curious. You have more energy when you’re curious AND it takes less effort to connect! For those of us who identify as shy, the extra energy and ease you now have access to can be used to fuel your courage to step forward and introduce yourselves to a world of interesting people! Less strain and more positive impact all from harnessing your hamsters!

Please understand, this isn’t a formula for you to manipulate others. Faking presence actually takes more effort than harnessing your hamsters and being authentically present, so always lead with the intention of forming real, warm and nurturing connections with those around you. Being fake and insincere trying to run a cloaked or hidden agenda will only exhaust you in the end and benefit no one.

So keep practicing being present this week as you explore herding your hamsters into telling interesting stories about the other person. From there, ask them a few questions about themselves and see how that impacts the connection.

Watch for the next article where I share the third step to creating warm connection which you will not want to miss!


P.S. I’d love to know what you think. Feel free to email me: Reid@ReidAboutSex.com and share your insights, experiences and thoughts!

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