Tip/Thought of the Day

Remove the “Do Not Disturb”

Remove the “do not disturb.”
Life is knocking!

Often patients relate how lonely or isolated they feel. Especially after the lock down, but even now that COVID restrictions are relaxing. For some it’s still a fear of getting sick. For others it’s an awkwardness in social settings. Like any habit, socializing is a learned trait. The less we do it, the harder it becomes. But for others it’s the clear cut signals they send, often unnoticed that say,

“Leave me alone.”

The perpetual scowl on the face.

Crossed arms.

Establishing extremely wide personal spaces.

Purposely sitting away from people.

Not returning texts, calls.

Refusing all social offers.

It doesn’t take much for people to get the message, and walk away.
Getting them back is much harder.
That’s when you have to make an effort.

Call and text them.
Join a group already talking.
Show you’re interested in interacting.
Keep the earbuds out and start up a conversation.
Share a story.

It’s amazing how those simple steps are driven out of us as we get older.
I remember watching my daughter when she was little. Whenever someone even remotely her age was close by they became good friends in minutes. Whether it was sharing crayons, paper or playing a game only they knew the rules to, the giggles, and laughter crossed all barriers.

Unlike the parents who kept a watchful eye while yards away from each other, not speaking a word to anyone but their child. That barrier took greater effort to cross.

By the time we’ve grown up, too much hurt, anxiety and fears of being shot down have built up, creating a wall that often grows higher and higher with every attempt. Dismantling it becomes an overwhelming challenge.

But when stuck in a long line at Disneyland, waiting for an airline flight, watching our kids play a sport… it seems a little easier to surmount. Especially if it’s with a stranger we’ll never seen again. What’s the harm?
Co-workers, family, estranged friends… that’s different.
But it doesn’t have to be.
In all likelihood they too miss the connection and want it reestablished. They just don’t know how. One step, one attempt is all it may take to start the wall crumbling.

Some have an innate ability, a charisma, light, attitude… that allows them to draw people in. Others have to work harder. My father was amazing. Everyone he spoke to walked away thinking they were his best friend. As a child I was in awe. As an adult I realized it wasn’t a gift, or a sham, he really cared. He really listened. Giving whoever he was in conversation with his full attention, eye contact and back then even a light touch on the shoulder or arm. All reconfirming what his words were saying,
“you matter, to me.”

Too often we talk while distracted with work or a personal issue. Quick to end the conversation. Or only focus on our issues.
Constantly look around as if waiting for someone better or something more interesting to come along.

Text, look at, or answer our phones.
Fidget and act bored, ready to bolt at any moment.

All clear signs the one you’re talking to isn’t important enough to actually focus on.

Next time you’re with someone.
*Put the phone on vibrate and inside a pocket or purse.
*Look them in the eyes when talking.
*Ask how they, their family are doing.
*Stand or sit in a way that says, “I’m here.” Open and encouraging conversation, not turned away or closed down.
*Listen to their words, hear their tone, watch their body language and respond.

We all need to know we matter. That our lives, whether we get up in the morning, its ups and downs, matters. It not only makes us better, but every one we touch as well. The less isolated, angry and frustrated we feel the harder it is to perpetuate a me vs. them attitude. Instead our futures become intertwined. Survival, health and prosperity becomes dependent on being there for each other.

Take off the “do not disturb sign”.
Life is knocking.
All you have to do is open the door.

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