“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
I love to pose a question in my journal and watch carefully for the myriad responses from The Universe. I always know how much attention something needs based on the quantity and clarity of the answers I receive.
Lately I’ve been pondering the question: How can I be a better sister, daughter, and friend? The Universe has been responding with a metric truckload of answers.
The common theme?
With our busy lives, we’re always ticking boxes off a long list and thinking about the next thing we have to get done. We’re constantly in doing mode.
Sometimes it can feel like a burden or an annoyance to have to stop, even momentarily, for the people we love.
It seems a little backward, don’t you think?
Getting present requires a certain level of self-awareness.
It is about putting aside your own thoughts, worries, fears, and insecurities and genuinely taking an interest in what that person is saying.
When you press pause—physically and mentally—and hold a space for a person to express themselves fully, that person feels valued, heard, seen, and loved.
And that’s all any of us ever really want.
So how can we bring more presence to our relationships?
Start with setting an intention to be more present.
It sounds so simple. And it is. Yet many of us enter our relationships with a nonchalant air and very little intent.
As you begin to engage with the people you love, the intention to be more present acts as a reminder, anchoring you into the present.
You become aware of those times when you are most present and those times when you are not. And you’ll notice what distracts you from the present moment. Phone calls, to-do lists, busyness overload, social media—whatever it is.
When you become aware of this stuff, you can work with it or eliminate it so it doesn’t keep distracting you.
Intention is where it starts.
I support others by supporting myself.
Next time you’re engaging with someone, take a moment to check in with where you’re at and ask if you’re supporting yourself.
By this I mean, are you centered, confident, and calm? Or, are you up in your head? Is there a story running?
I’ll give you an example. I have a tendency to overcompensate when I meet someone new, someone I potentially want to be friends with. I’m overly nice to the point where it’s almost awkward and uncomfortable. Why do I do this?
At some point, I stop supporting myself and I retreat into my head.
Here, there is a story running: “What if I say the wrong thing? What if she doesn’t like me? Have I got something in my teeth? Did I put deodorant on this morning? What if I have nothing to say in response to what she’s telling me?” And on and on it goes.
Yup. As I write this, I see how ridiculous it all sounds. But this is what happens. I stop supporting myself and let my mind run away with the show.
The result? I lose my presence.
The same can be said for interacting with people I know well, like family members and good friends. The story is not necessarily the same, but the outcome most certainly is.
When I support myself, I am connected and grounded. I easily retain the finer details of the conversation. And later, I remember to follow up to see if the person is feeling better/got that job/went on that second date.
I speak from my heart rather than from my head, bringing value to the conversation. I set adequate boundaries. It actually makes me a better sister, daughter, and friend.
Supporting yourself is essential to supporting those around you.
This doesn’t have to be difficult. It might look like:
- Clearing your busy schedule and creating some space just for yourself
- Saying no
- Focusing on your breath
- Learning to meditate
- Exploring the stories that are running in your head (journaling and kinesiology are my favorite mechanisms for self-exploration)
How does presence influence your relationships? Have you noticed the dynamics of the relationships change? Can you feel the connections strengthen with your presence?
Couple doing yoga image via Shutterstock