Do you have powerful, meaningful bonds with family, friends, and loved ones? How do you do it? You may or may not realize, but you are most likely validating them, easing their burdens in life, and truly seeing them. If you ask, they will probably say that you “show up” for them.
However, if you find yourself resentful a great deal of the time or in one-sided relationships, you may not be showing up for yourself. Are you kind to yourself? Do you set healthy boundaries with others? Aha. How about you take some time to care for your spiritual and mental health? Only then can you truly offer that lifesaving power of “being there” for someone fully. After all, you are the artist, and your life is your masterpiece.
So how do you show up for someone you care about? Start with what actually works and feels good to them. Are they a texter and only want a textationship? “Just received your text and I don’t know which is brighter: my home screen or my smile.” Aww. Oh, and just remember: Texting wasn’t always this easy. Back in the day, if you wanted an “S” you had better click that “7” button four times. Lol. Perhaps they are a Snapchatter, Instagram-lover, or they prefer a good ole fashioned chat over the phone. You do remember actually talking on the phone? Or… maybe not. Come to think of it, don’t you sometimes feel like an iPhone? You lose energy doing absolutely nothing? And did you ever notice how phones these days keep getting thinner and smaller, and people keep getting the opposite? But I digress… Do your friends love to connect regularly, or by daily texts, weekly calls, or maybe once a year on a birthday? Do you remember their special occasions? Shared traditions are awesome, like always spending the Fourth of July together. Do you have any of those?
There’s nothing quite like someone saying, “Hey, I saw or heard this… and it reminded me of you.” Being thought of is one of the most affirming feelings you can offer someone. How about buying a gift for no reason at all and adding a note: “Knowing how much you love chocolate…” Yup, you had me at chocolate.
Don’t forget the simplest things like asking how his day was. Always remember to tell her if someone said something sweet or complimentary about her. Incidentally, be honest with him about your needs. No one is a professional mind-reader. No, we do not inherently know how to love people if they do not share their preferences with us. It’s okay to ask her: “What’s the best way to support you in this situation?” And then make a mental note of it for next time.
Reach out just to tell her that you’re thinking of her today, and how much you miss or appreciate her. Friends can never hear this enough. If you hurt him, please do apologize and do it meaningfully. Never say: “I’m sorry, but…” If you trust him, then by all means be vulnerable with him.
Show up even when no one applauds you for it. Especially then. Friends will show you – much more than tell you – about who they are and what you mean to them. And yes, they take responsibility for the times they forget or abandon you. Lighten up, and fill the room with laughter if you can. It’s awfully hard not to feel great around someone with a positive, carefree approach to life.
Show compassion, even when you are not particularly high on life. Remember the small details. Their kids’ names, all ten of them. Lol. Things your loved one or friend shared with you about their life, family, and work. Do not forget important dates, their birthday, or your “song” if you have one. What they may remember most about their birthday is that you forgot it. Uh, oh. Remind them of sweet memories of your relationship. Empathize and sympathize. Be happy for their happiness and sad for their blues; stay and be reliable, even during the tough times.
Please pay attention to how often you use the word “I” – and use it less. Anticipate your loved ones’ needs and occasionally ask if there is anything you can do to help. Better yet, take action. Cook for her, show up and offer him a ride. Put some flowers on your co-worker’s desk. Grab an extra coffee for them. Be helpful. If she doesn’t know how to change that light bulb, walk her through it. Speaking of which: How many narcissists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one: He just holds it up there and waits for the world to revolve around him. Heh.
One of the greatest gifts you can give someone, sweet friends, is support. You may not be able to always be with them, but you can be there for them.
Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens. She works with individuals, couples, and families. Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends. She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at Safehavenhealing@gmail.com or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.