Encouragementology

Reaching Out Staying Connected

February 25, 2020

I’m talking to you, whether you are in need of reaching out or you need to be more intentional about reaching out - this show is for you. We all need each other. I would like to say now more than ever but I’m sure every generation has said the same thing. When we clung to each other for survival we were still probably feeling the pangs of distraction. But now,  in a world where independence is encouraged and even celebrated, is the time to understand the power of connections. Showing love and empathy for another human being, being able to communicate with them and share is what makes us human. Let’s not lose that. 

Many of us feel the needs of others but are fearful to reach out. “Maybe they don’t want any help, maybe they will think I’m butting-in, why do I think I have all the answers, maybe I should wait until they reach out.”

The flipside is the person needing the help thinks, “I hate to be a bother, maybe they will notice that I’m down, I know they will think I’m a loser if I ask for help or direction, why do I have to be so needy, maybe I should wait until they reach out.”

Now we’ve entered the waiting game.

Wanda Mills, 90 years old and alone wrote a note she put in her neighbor’s mailbox- “Would you consider to become my friend. I’m 90 years old — live alone and all my friends have passed away. I am so lonesome and scared. Please — I pray for someone.

We’ve all passed people sitting alone and have thought, I’m sure they want to be by themselves.

We are social creatures who constantly dream, wonder, and create. Our minds are talking all the time. But when your ideas and conversations are only shared with yourself in your own head, you may have a tendency to exaggerate and create a negative narrative that isn’t even true. According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts. Think about it, you talk to yourself in your thoughts more than you talk to anyone else. 

I would like to think they are all pep-talks and affirmations of gratitude but based on the research, that can’t be true. My guess is a combination of self-doubt, rumination over the past, and a healthy dose of assumptions mixed with worry. Does that pretty well sum it up? Who is there, in your head, to give a differing opinion or to talk you off the cliff? Who is there to give you a pep-talk and tell you everything is going to be alright? If you don’t reach out then its only YOU!

Practicing positive self-talk has to start with an awareness of your current state. How do you feel? Be honest here. It’s easy to say “things are fine”, “I like being by myself, I’m a loner”, “I don’t care what other people think or feel about me”. Even though it’s important to embrace alone time, everyone craves human connection. So it starts with letting go of the defensive shield and being real. How are you? 

Take notice of your interactions. How many do you have each week or each day? Are they meaningful or more robotic? It’s easy to go on auto-pilot with our day-to-day and miss so many opportunities to share meaningful moments with another human being. Now, look at your list. Is it possible to be a little more intentional? Go out of your way to connect with another person or make yourself open and available TO connect. 

Wanda Mills was not only alone because she lost family members and friends, but she was also alone because she didn’t reach out. People passed her by assuming she didn’t want to be bothered. Are you eating lunch in the corner with your nose buried in a book or your digital device and then wonder why the “gang” doesn’t invite you to coffee or happy hour. Are you taking lunch in your car and wondering why your co-workers don’t see how in pain you are? 

Life is passing us by at a rapid rate. People are pulled in a bazillion directions and everyone is struggling with something. You can’t, and I repeat, can’t assume people, even family members, know that you are hurting. You have to open the door to help. 

To prime the door, you need to get comfortable with just “meeting” people. It’s hard to ask for help when there is no one to ask. Has your social circle shrunk over time…..life gets busy, you move around, change jobs, dissolve relationships, hyper-focused on children, not comfortable anymore mixing & mingling in the bar scene? All of a sudden you look up and here you are with limited acquaintances and just a few friends. 

It might be time to exercise your social muscle and push yourself out there a little more. 

Make social exercise a part of your weekly routine. Join a gym but before you stick the headphones in, say hi to a few members. Join a book club - you are exercising your mind and you have a built-in conversation, the book. Want to get outside, join a hiking or biking club. Find something you are interested in and then explore where those people engage in what they like. 

The idea is to realize you have the power to change your circumstances today. It’s up to you to harness that power and channel it in the right direction. How can you make a difference? Where can you notice a need for connection?

CHALLENGE: Notice the world around you and those who are suffering. Make it your mission to connect and offer encouragement, guidance, and friendship. Plug into what truly matters and share your light. 

 

I Know YOU Can Do It!