A Simple Way to Stay Connected

There are two types of people.Just kidding. You’ve been outside (I assume) and you know the myriad of personality that exists out there. There are several thousand types of people in the world. Although, listening to popular music or reading clever articles, will give the impression that there are only a handful of personalities in your world. I argue this mandated thought. I decree that personality and disposition is a varied as flower species.  

Have you ever met some one who preferred the indoors to the outdoors?

Have you ever met some one who hated to read books?

Have you ever met some one who only liked country music?

 There are many of us. We are all unique. We are all valuable. We are all irreplaceable.  

And, we are all self absorbed.

Did I lose you? I know it’s awful to put it down like that. Bluntly pointing out the truth is never a thing of beauty at first glimpse. We love lies. Well, maybe we don’t love lies as much as we love feeling at ease. Who wants to explore the inner workings of man, and attempt to forge a new path? Blech.

 If you are still with me, then I say- it’s someone like you. Or, you are just morbidly curious about the direction of this post. Either way, let us continue.

How dare me! How could I say we are all self absorbed? There are saints and martyrs around the world who are doing far more than me. That is absolutely true. I am not on any list for sainthood, and no one will ever state that I am a martyr.  

Self absorption is defined as caring only about one’s own self and one’s own activities and not showing interest in the rest of the world. An example of self absorption is when you go on and on to your friend about your problems without asking how she is.

It’s honesty time. Raise your hand if you have ever been guilty of stealing the conversation. What about demanding a certain movie, or restaurant?  

What about showing up late for an appointment with no real reason?  

There we have it: Self Absorption. Please don’t panic, or become enraged with me. I believe we are all self absorbed, but the degree to which and exactly how long we are vary. I believe that occasionally we all deserve to be the primary focus of the day. Sometimes it should be all about us. It’s when we find that our needs supersede those around us that we need to pull over and reevaluate.  

In my house, we have a rule. Well, we have a list of them, but this one makes sense in this post.

Check In

Simple, yes?

It merely means that everyone in the house needs to make it a point every day to check in with one another. Mom and dad, parents and kids; we all need to check in. Sometimes the check in is a quick debrief of the day and lasts only minutes. Sometimes someone needs more attention and we listen. Sometimes we are all arguing and don’t want to do it, but we do it anyway. Those are my favorites J

Checking in with one another can be the light to an otherwise dark day for some. Other times, you may find that in your own bliss, you were unaware of just how bad things were for someone else. There are days, that the check in is unsubstantial. No earth shattering news to share or tears to cry. It’s what I call the vanilla of life. The plain ole boring minutia is a gift. On the days when life throws a heap of habanero pesto paste into your sweet bowl of vanilla, you will long for the simplicity of boring. You’ll long for the calming sweetness that vanilla brings. Ah, but the spicy days can be pivotal. Those can be your catalyst for change. That can be where it all makes sense. The unexpected can help you forge a path you never knew.  

 I have a friend. We have been friends for years. At one point in my life, I spoke on the phone to her daily. We sat silent watching TV together on the phone, occasionally commenting on plot line or the wardrobe. Some of our conversations were deep and full of secrets; others were about what food we wanted for dinner. Our phone conversations were as much a part of my day as eating or drinking. I counted on them. As the years went on, the phone calls were fewer. Social Media and Texting connected us some, but suddenly I realized two years had gone by with no phone call. I decided to make contact, but it was rushed. She was busy, I was driving; you know how it goes. It was weeks before we reconnected. She was telling me about her new job, her family adventures, and then she unloaded a bombshell. The conversation took a dark turn as she confessed how depressed, and alone she had been feeling. I listened to her detail her inner turmoil. I felt guilty. I felt helpless. I knew at that moment how neglected our friendship had been. It was like a once beautiful garden, now starved for sunlight and water. I knew at that moment that things had to change.  

That conversation made me more aware of every contact I ever made. I began to wonder about other friends. I began to reevaluate the conversations I had with my husband. Was I doing the same thing at home? Was I replacing actual conversation with autopilot presence? The answer was yes. In every area of my life, I had become too comfortable with not talking. (For those who know me well, this is hard to imagine as I talk – A Lot) I was filling my day with words, but not conversation. I wasn’t asking questions. I wasn’t listening. I was just going through the motions. I was self absorbed.  

That was the birth of the ‘Check In’ rule. That was also the beginning of my quest to really get to know people. It made me eager to look people in the eye and really see them. At this very moment, you are surrounded by people. Many of those people are friends and coworkers that you think you know. But do you? Do they know you? Chances are the answer is no. Chances are you, like me, have been a bit more self absorbed than you realized. That doesn’t make you a bad person. Self absorption is a natural part of our existence. It always has been, and it always will be. It doesn’t have to dominate your life however. It can be tampered down a bit more. We can make more of an effort to notice others and their needs. We can become Self Appreciative rather than Absorbed. What is the difference? Well since I am making up labels, I will define it.

Self Appreciation is taking into account all of the gifts, talents, and uniqueness that you posses and giving yourself a slow clap. It’s being aware that you have a lot to offer, and this world is darn lucky to have you in it. It’s the knowledge that people are affected by your mere existence. It’s knowing that you are great. But unlike absorption, appreciation allows us to notice the same qualities in others. We can notice the greatness residing in our friends and families. We can join in the celebration of our loved ones gifts and triumphs. We can remind them of their worth when they have lost sight of it. We can have a standing ovation of slow claps.

 So, my challenge to each of you is this. Check in.

Call someone you miss.

Kiss your loved ones.

Ask a stranger how their day is going, and listen to them.

Let a long lost friend know you are thinking of them.

Turn off the T.V and have a discussion with your family.