One of the greatest gifts that you can give to those you love is being fully open and present in your interactions with them. Like most other people these days, you’re probably busy and have dozens of obligations demanding your attention. You may often be distracted and only half paying attention when you are interacting with your family and friends.
Not only can this lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings, it can also give your loved ones the impression that you are indifferent or uncaring, which might cause them to pull back from you. Your relationships then suffer because you and your loved ones feel disconnected and isolated from each other, even if you are spending plenty of time together.
Being fully present and open with someone you care about can be as simple as asking them, “How are you really doing?” Then give them your full attention as they respond. Listen to their words, but even more importantly, pay attention to the feelings they are expressing beneath the words. You can learn so much about them just by giving them your full attention as they share their thoughts with you.
Not only will this help them to feel truly heard and supported in the moment, but over time it will help deepen and strengthen your bond with them so that you both end up feeling closer and more connected to each other. Even if you don’t have any specific advice to offer about their current situation, you are at least helping them to feel validated and heard, and you are letting them know that you really do care. In response, your loved ones will probably start reflecting the same level of attention and care back to you, so that your relationship actually becomes stronger and more genuine over time.
While you are deepening your bonds with others, you may also want to consider whether you are giving yourself the same level of attention and support. Check in with yourself regularly. How are you feeling today? Have you been struggling with anything lately? Do you feel overwhelmed, isolated, confused, or lost? Are you being too hard on yourself lately, by overextending yourself or neglecting your self-care?
Give your feelings a voice by expressing them in a journal. Write about the things that are happening in your life, and how you feel about them. By giving yourself permission to get in touch with your feelings and express them, you will feel heard and validated, which can not only help you to move through life’s challenges more smoothly, but also maintain better emotional balance.
During times when you may be facing more difficult or overwhelming challenges, be willing to give yourself the gift of a trusted support network, whether that’s family and friends you can trust, or even a professional coach or therapist who can guide you through your feelings in a healthy way.
Sometimes just knowing that you’ve got someone on your side who really hears you and understands what you’re going through can give you much more confidence in your ability to rise above and overcome any challenges that you may face in life.