Understanding we need other people is not enough. We simply cannot stop there.
If we want healing & wholeness, we must allow others the opportunity to be a part of our journey. Even the messiest parts.
Scary, I know. Here is why I say it’s necessary though…because when people are allowed to experience you in the midst of your dark & twisty times. When they have the opportunity to remain loyal to you & help protect your fragile flame of hope. When they are allowed to help you build a raft so you can leave the manmade island you’re stranded on…You will find that eventually, the clouds start to clear a bit, the rain stops pelting you, the waves calm, the sun starts to peek through the haze, & you even question whether your eyes are deceiving you…is that land? Once you’ve used the last of your strength to paddle onto the shore, you may start kissing the ground. Grateful you made it. You managed to survive. & when you look around… you realize that you aren’t alone there either.
The people that were allowed to witness your difficult times & assist, are the ones shouting the loudest when you finally get to the other side of things & it’s time to celebrate.
When we remain quiet during our difficult times. Only sharing the highlights of our lives. The depth of our excitement is lost on others. Then we start to question if it was really a victory at all. This steals our joy. Silent suffering is a joy thief.
We also become unrelatable to others. While they are feeling like they might drown in their own lives. They glance over to your highlight reel, put together self, & think: “there’s no way they would understand.”
Why do we do this to ourselves? Especially when there is a better way!
If we did it differently we could end up:
- Honoring each other & our messes.
- Overcoming shame.
- Becoming stubbornly hopeful.
- Inspiring others, but not by being perfect, by being raw, honest, & vulnerable.
- Actually, celebrating the good in each other’s lives! Freeing others from the need to constantly be looking over their shoulders, wondering if their joy is causing others pain.
- Feeling loved.
- Realizing that perfect is truly boring & embrace our flaws.
- Achieving our goals, without working ourselves to death.
How do we accomplish all of this?
- Answer honestly. When someone asks how you are, don’t provide some bull crap answer. You don’t have to provide you life story either. Just let others know that you are struggling or going through something. This way, if you end up on your island, you’ve left some clues as to your whereabouts.
- Genuinely care & inquire about others. When asking someone how they are, wait for an answer. How many times have you asked someone how they were doing while still walking? It’s become a casual greeting instead of a serious question & that needs to change. It starts with you. Ask. Wait for an answer.
- Gently push. When their eyes give a different answer than their mouth, don’t let them off the hook. Care. A simple, are you sure? Can make a huge difference in feeling connected & helping others feel seen.
- Ask for help. When you ask for help from others, it creates an environment where others will feel comfortable asking you for help in the future. This creates a cycle of caring & helping one another.
- Be available. Your success with this, in part, is making sure that your plate isn’t so full that you don’t have time for anyone else in your life. Being able to make yourself available & quick, is something very helpful.
- Follow through. This can be a tough time in this busy society. I myself struggle with follow through. I find that putting reminders in my phone calendar helps me a lot. Someone will tell me about a Dr. appointment they have coming up, or an important conversation they plan to have on a certain day, anything of importance that I want to follow up on I put it into my calendar so that I can follow up by shooting a text or giving them call to see how it went. Being Intentional is a very powerful tool in connecting with others.
So I’m daring to suggest that we start a movement. A movement where we lift our eyes up, get honest, & abandon our manmade islands. Maybe this means moving to the “city” & being around others more often. Maybe this involves a lot of bridge building between islands so that we can safely visit while keeping our options open. Maybe we intentionally find someone who “gets” what we are going through & we invite them to share our island.
How this will look in your world will vary. The key is that you are connecting with others always.
In the pain. In the mess. In the shame. In the happiness. In the victories. In the addictions. In the sobriety. In the frustration. In the peace. In the bountiful times. In the times of lack. In the times of new life. In the times of loss. During times of career success. During times of wandering & searching.
Always Choosing Connection.
We can do it. We will mess it up. But then we can try again. No shame. Just tenacious effort to keep moving forward together.
Edited to add:
Check out the playlist that was inspired by this post! I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends