I'm entering the new year with relationships on my mind. Not one type in particular, mind you, but all the connections we value in our lives ....
As human beings, we're social animals. Arguably, even the most introverted among us seek connection, communication and intimacy. It's innate. So here we are going in to year two of an unyielding pandemic wherein social distancing and isolation are still the name of the game. Here in the Bay Area, we're navigating our second stay-at-home order in roughly nine months in effort to stay physically safe, but emotionally it's taking a toll.
It's an f'd-up situation; I'm right here with you on this. There's no way around that.
And still for those of us who may feel called or just curious, this time may also be an opportunity to pivot, slow down, and get back to nourishing the connections we hold dear, and perhaps make some new ones ... physically-distanced, of course.
What follows are five practices that come to mind when I think of developing and nourishing connection. I'm sharing them here as a framework, but also want to encourage you to reflect on qualities/behaviors/actions you value in your relationships.
This is helpful to keep in mind when you reflect on how you're showing up in relationships, but also in determining whether relationships are nourishing for you as well. Next week's blog post will be on that very subject!
Meanwhile, I'll invite you to join me in holding the hope that while we have a ways to go, this year has the potential for some long overdue healing and change. And what a powerful way to honor that intention, by tending to our relationships near and far.
Till Next Time, Wishing you Health & Ease,
Five Practices to Nourish & Sustain Relationships
1) Authentic Presence - This means showing up fully as you are and sharing your wholeness with others. This also means noting if you feel safe and comfortable enough to do so.
2) Attentive Listening - The key here is staying quiet long enough to let the other person speak their truth. So many of us are out of practice with this simple act because we are eager to share our own experiences, wisdom or ask questions. There's a time for all of that, but the invitation here is to practice sitting in silence and paying full attention to what the other person is sharing. Letting other people feel heard is a serious gift.
3) Empathy - Ah, the term empathy gets tossed around in pop culture quite a bit. Ultimately, it's the practice of understanding and being with the feelings of another. For some people this comes naturally and for other people, it takes practice. Here's a beautiful short by author and social worker, Brenè Brown about empathy. I'll also add here that empathy is not just for hard times. It's also important in sharing joy, successes and so on with people you care about.
4) Gratitude & Appreciation - This is a simple practice and often overlooked, but sharing how you appreciate someone or are grateful for them helps nurture connection. This is different than thanking someone for running an errand, though also important. The focus here is more on acknowledging strengths or gifts you you see in another person. The practice can be powerful.
5). Action & Service - Number 5 focuses on your action in relationship. Are you consistent? Do you come through when you say you're going to do something? Do you own it when you aren't able to? Do you acknowledge the impact of your own actions, even when you didn't mean to hurt someone? In turn, asking another person who is struggling: What do you need? How can I help? Is a way to demonstrate service in a relationship.