How Are You Consciously Reaching Out To Others?
When waiting in line to get into Costco is the closest thing that we have to Disneyland, and grandparents meet their newborn grandchildren via Zoom sessions, we’re all craving intimacy in the richest form. Dating has ceased (save for online) and work interactions are either electronic, hazardous or just plain cancelled. How are we meeting our social needs when we’ve been cut off from the world?
I’ve noticed a lot of people answering old-school questionnaires and even 'Quarantine Bingo' on Facebook over the last few weeks. Sure, they can be fun, thought provoking and fill boredom, but they are most certainly an invitation for connection. Have you noticed the increased frequency as well? How do you respond? Do you glance, smirk or “hmmm,” and turn away? Or do you connect; relate?
How are you currently inviting others into your world?
Dialing a phone number is so foreign to many. Shooting a text is much faster, but it can certainly do the trick. Facebook messenger? Insta DM? Snail mail? All good options. Here’s how to make it count:
Ask open-ended questions: “How are you keeping busy at home?” or “What tips do you have for staying focused while working from home?”
Follow up about something you’ve recently talked to them about: “Hey! You mentioned that you bake when you’re stressed – what have you baked lately?”
Ask questions that can be answered with detail: “What was your favorite part of (that movie)?” or “How are you taking care of yourself right now?”
How do you show others that you really care?
Validate their emotions: “You can’t focus on work because the kids are loud during the day? That’s really frustrating.”
Avoid giving a response about you: “Well when that happens to me I just turn the TV on. Have you tried that?”
Consider whether they need emotional support OR if they want you to help brainstorm a solution: “That’s really frustrating. What do you need right now?” or “What would make it easier for you?”
How can you respond to those social media posts?
Engage! Can you give a compliment? Highlight what they said in your response. Give detail if they ask YOU a question.
“I didn’t know you like THAT restaurant more than Sugarfish! You drive 7 hours just to get your favorite sushi fix. THAT OTHER PLACE, must be MIND BLOWING!”
“You’ve exercised EVERY DAY since Q? What an inspiration!”
“You’ve been to 17 states? What is the most overrated tourist destination that you’ve been to?”
“I’m going crazy with the kids at the house 24/7. You know what sounds really nice? Hiking Wildwood at sunrise without having to rush home to watch the kids. Maybe grab a juice at Grabba Green after and just poke around town. THAT is what I’m missing right now.”
And lastly: Who should you reach out to MOST?
People with limited social circles: They might not have many people to connect with.
Your social butterfly friends: They might EXTRA miss people.
People you don’t know very well: Why not?
Old people: See limited social circle, above.
People with depression, anxiety, BPD, etc: They might not reach out for help.
People that are always happy: You never know what’s underneath.
Everyone. Anyone. Whoever you can or want to.
How are you going to consciously reach out to others?
Emily Derrick is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She can be reached at (805) 870 - 5606 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org