Before I dive into my post I have to give a quick shout out to all our moms. My mom recently gave me a birthday card that I will cherish forever. In it she talked about a couple of my character traits and for the first time I could see clearly that she really knew who I was and could see ME for who I was. What a gift this was to me!
Now, for some who are blessed with very close relationships with their parents this may be something taken for granted. But, while we have a good relationship, it could be closer. My mom isn’t the person I think to call when I’m having a problem with a close friend. She isn’t the person I turn to when I have conflict with a boyfriend. I do wish we were closer, but I don’t really know how to make that happen.
There seems to be an invisible wall that I cannot quite get over.
I got to thinking about why and it occurred to me that part of the reason is fear. Fear that if I tried I’d fail. Fear that if I reached out I’d somehow be rejected.
I remember hearing somewhere that when you feel fear it is a sign that you need to do the thing you fear. So today I wanted to talk about a few ideas I’ve come across for breaking down those invisible walls.
Step one- notice and recognize your need to deeply connect to people and then take action to make the connection. We are social creatures. I’m an extrovert so it’s easy for me to see this! An introvert may be happy staying at home on a friday night but they still have a need for friends, it’s just they go about it differently than us extraverts. When you see or hear something that makes you think of a friend or family member, take the opportunity to act! Don’t just file away the thought and find yourself months later asking ‘Has it really been 4 months since I’ve seen Kim & Jim?’.
Step two- ban the devices. When you do meet up with your friends or family I suggest completely banning devices. For me this is pretty easy- as I said I do not like being a slave to my technology. Set your cell phone and ipad down and interact face to face. I’ve noticed that if the TV is on, my dad is tuned out. I used to get really annoyed by this, after all we were over visiting! But I came to realize I needed to take things into my own hands, so now when we visit I engage HIM by asking HIM to play card games or darts or go outside and enjoy the weather.
Step three- digging deeper than the surface. It’s really easy to have a couple hundred friends on Facebook, but do you actually have relationships with all these people? Of course not! Ask yourself what you can do to deepen your relationship and make decided effort to do so. See a card that reminds you of someone? Buy it, send it to them, for no reason at all. Make time to go to your friends BBQ or kids birthday party if that’s what is important to them. Take a moment to ask ‘what is it that this friend needs?’ and do it!
Step four– I’ve mentioned it before and I will mention it again- small meaningful changes over time make the difference in gaining or loosing 10 pounds. The same can be said for relationships. One idea can be getting up a little earlier so you can get some personal time in or run errands so you can carve our more time with your family. Maybe for you it means spending dime on the best house cleaners now and then so you can have an extra 4 hours over a weekend with your family! Spending a little dime so you can spend time with your family is well worth it.
These steps seem simple enough. But developing relationships takes work and commitment and it’s a two way street. If you don’t feel like you’re on the receiving end, let your friend know you want to do more and be closer. Notice that I didn’t say ‘blame’, no blame- just a conversation about what you’d like to see and how you’d like to grow together.