How does your heart feel when a friend arrives early to your birthday party? How about when a parent notices that you’re having a hard time and asks if you’re okay? Even a simple text from an old co-worker saying they’re thinking of you is enough to make you feel loved and seen. These are simple acts of people showing up for you. Making an intentional appearance in someone’s life over and over again is the most essential way to say “I love you.”
More often than not, just being there is enough.
Perhaps a dear friend just had her heart broken by a guy. You don’t have to have the perfect words to say in order to mend her. In reality, nothing you say can fix how she feels. Instead, she just wants you to be there. A phone call, text, or a visit is enough, even if you don’t have anything to say. After all, according to Woody Allen, “Eighty percent of success in life is showing up.”
Presence is the greatest gift you can offer.
You’re texting while you’re having a face-to-face conversation with a friend, or you’ve put your phone away in your bag while you’re together—which will your buddy appreciate more? Beyond any physical gift or fancy words you could say, genuine attention is the best gift you can give.
Putting down the phone for a while is half the battle today.
Not to beat a dead horse, but so many of us are guilty of not showing up because we’re glued to our phones. It’s okay to use your phone, I mean it’s like an extension of your being for crying out loud. Nonetheless, it’s important to know when to put it down and face the world.
A text, call, or visit could mean everything.
Did you know that about one in five Americans struggles with a mental health issue each year? That means that there’s a good chance that one, if not more, of your friends are fighting. Reaching out to them just to say “hello” could change the course of their whole day. Even those who don’t struggle with mental health will wildly appreciate being thought of.
Showing up is about more than what you say or do.
Imagine if you came to a friend’s party but you just hid in the corner the entire time. Sure, you’re physically there, but are you really? I know this is a slight contradiction to Woody’s 80 percent rule, but that other 20 percent is important to note. Tone, body language, and intention are all essential, too.
Consider the energy you bring.
Again, it’s super important to just bring yourself to where you need to be whether that’s in-person or over the phone, but you also need to think about where you’re at. Are you feeling totally miserable? Because you’re going to bring that energy with you. All it takes is a little mindfulness sometimes, then you’re able to bring some improved energy.
Giving someone space to be where they’re at can help them heal.
Acceptance, understanding, kindness, and compassion go a long way when you’re interacting with someone. Maybe your pal is having a hard day after a fight with another friend. Just being with them and paying attention to how they’re feeling can allow them to process their feelings. After all, showing is about more than just physical presence.
Tame a wandering mind.
You’ve definitely had an experience where you’ve been a terrible listener. Your mind was elsewhere and you heard nothing a parent just said to you. When you see their face fall with sadness, you feel your stomach drop with guilt. Do everyone a favor and watch what you’re thinking about. Try to redirect your attention to the person in front of you.
Be willing to be brave.
Look, it’s vulnerable and scary to be completely present with another person. Putting away the phone, looking your lover in their eyes, and really opening your heart to what they have to say is a daring act. Be willing to do this. Walk straight through your fear to experience love.
Let yourself be imperfect.
Even if you try to take all of these suggestions into consideration and do as many as possible, you’re going to fall short. This is totally okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a good friend, lover, or family member. The important thing is that you keep trying. The people who are able to share the most love are those who keep doing their best to be intentionally present day after day.
Show up for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
You know this about relationships—you can’t just be a sunshine soldier who’s only there when things are good. You’ve got to be willing to provide tissues to your lover when they’re snot-crying, hugs for a parent when they’re being difficult, and a quiet mouth to a friend when they just need to rant it out.
When you really show up, your friend or lover can feel it.
Taking the time to be truly present with someone penetrates right to their heart. You’re then connecting with them on a level where you’re all feeling each other. It’s really a beautiful thing. This sort of visceral feeling makes it easy to know when someone’s truly showing up (and when they’re not).
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