Last December I wrote an article titled, Showing Up Stinks. It received a high response rate. One of the more heartbreaking scenarios seems to be between parents and adult children. Either the children are too busy or there is some unresolved conflict or both. These follow-up conversations with many of you have prompted me to put together a list of ways that we can continue to show up even when it feels impossible.
1. Send text messages that don’t require a return response. One of the hardest things about continuing to show up is being ignored. Don’t set yourself up for that heartache but still show up for those you love. We now have emojis, GIFs, funny videos … you don’t even have to type words, just send the love and let it go.
2. Send a card in the mail. We don’t get mail anymore, it will show you made an extra effort if to no one else but yourself.
3. Be funny. Humor heals. Get a bubble machine and show up to family events in a sea of bubbles. Send a knock knock joke text or a selfie from Snapchat.
4. Don’t try so hard. Keep it small but consistent. Put it on your calendar and only send a text 2X a month or whatever is appropriate for the particular relationship.
5. Boundaries not Lessons. An example of this is, maybe you have an adult child who only finds you useful when they need money. Don’t be available at every moment but don’t do it to teach a lesson. Do it to set an appropriate parent-adult child relationship.
6. Write down the positives. This is just for you. If a loved one is really frustrating you, stop running the list of grievances. That creates toxic energy, instead sit yourself down and write a list of positives about your loved one. The list is just for you. Protect it or destroy it after you feel the shift towards love.
7. Go High When They Go Low. If you have an ex-wife who always has to get a dig in, don’t call up your buddy to plot revenge over beers. Instead, simply remind yourself that your ex answers to God/Life/The Universe just like everyone else. Don’t be afraid to be the bigger person and ignore those digs.
8. Is it time to re-define the relationship? The author and coach Cheryl Richardson famously says, “Don’t go to the hardware store for milk.” In other words, stop going back to that friend for advice who makes you feel bad about yourself. Maybe she’s just the movie friend or concert friend. Save the meaningful talks for those who are better able to support you.
9. Know that There are Seasons in Relationships. Lifelong relationships evolve. Sometimes we are closer than other times. Respect the season the relationship is in and know that seasons change.
10. Pray/Affirm/Send Good Vibes. You don’t need direct contact with another person to continue to show up for them. For many it’s prayer. If not prayer, sit in silence and send love and good vibes.
Can we keep this list going as a community? What ways have you continued to show up for those you love, especially when you find it difficult… Share in the comments. Let’s all support each other.