I really loathe guilt trips. What do they buy you when you’re handing them out? The same thing you get when you’re receiving one: resentment. Friendships and relationships built around guilt and unrealistic expectations are not a good or a healthy thing.
I fight it sometimes. Pretty sure most people do. I tried to eliminate them, but they can be fun and feel so useful...when you’re the one handing them out.
Pivoting: I do think one of the hallmarks of great relationships - not ALL, just great ones - is that they’re proactive.
In other words, it’s the difference between saying,
Are you upset about something? Well, let me know if you want to talk.
I’m sensing you’re upset about something. Let’s talk.
The difference between:
Sounds like you’re overwhelmed! Let me know if you need help!
I think you have a lot going on and I would love to listen and help. What shall we start with and what can I do?
The difference between:
Let me know if you want to talk.
Let’s talk. Tell me what’s going on! And let’s face this together.
The difference between
Responding to a heartfelt message with an emoji.
Responding to a personal message with a thoughtful response.
I’ve tried to help our kids learn how to converse well:
“Conversation is a ball. You’re playing catch, and you take turns. You keep it going. You throw, you catch. Good dialog is like that. Active. You answer a question and then you throw it back. That’s what makes conversation - and friendship - fun. It’s active and you keep tossing things back and forth. It's not one person's job to keep it going. You gotta both be in it.”
Life is tough sometimes. And most people...they’re on middle and outer edges of our concentric social circles; the people we nod to and say ‘how you doing?’ without breaking stride, the ones we banter casually and playfully with and keep ourselves in check with appropriate decorum and protocol for the nature of that friendship.
But the handful of deeper and more meaningful ones we might be fortunate to have...by definition, they may need a little extra time and effort and concern and concerted exertion building and growing...
...those are the the ones that need proactive energy; the kind that doesn’t wait or expect the other to contact you for help.
And energy, although different than love, has the potential to have a similar characteristic in the right circumstances: it can multiply. Good energy (I know this runs slightly counter to Science 101) multiplies itself. Bring good energy in. Proactive. A rocket boost. Or even a tiny little vial-size boost. Not fake positivity; totally different thing.
An energy that says "hey, this is tough, and you need some extra energy, so I'm jumping in with you, and let's boost each other up today."
And that can be two minutes. Two minutes of proactivity here and there. An investment. Those two minutes add up. They're doable. But don't wait. It's a ball. You catch, you throw.
You go. You don’t wait. You confidently forge ahead and take ownership of that valuable thing that you share and you make it your place to make sure they’re good.
Because sometimes, it is your place.
And it feels good to know there’s someone coming to check on you before you’ve asked.
That’s what we do for each other. What we should do.
And that word “should” is at the root of so many guilt trips.
You should do this.
You should do that.
So be it.
To those people you may be extra close to and have special connections with: you should be proactive. Don’t wait to be there for them. Don't wait for them to ask.
Just go. Be there.
Happy sunshine day, all. Go get 'em. Get him. Or her. Go.