My daughter, Jarah, was in rare form last night. Her little 11-year old world was swirling.
- First, the new movie, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, is being released in theaters on Friday. She’s stoked to see it.
- Second, our annual father-daughter dance is Saturday. She doesn’t have a dress.
- Third, she’s starting to plan for her first overnight church camp this SUMMER and worried that her best friend, Kyli, won’t be able to go with her. I have to let Kyli’s mom know about it today, or else it will be my fault.
- Fourth, she’s stressed about her dog, Bolt, because he has to go to the vet tomorrow.
- Lastly, she thinks she gets way too much homework and is not looking forward to her math test next week.
In moments like these, when someone is afflicted with stress, anxiety, tension, or even pain, a natural response may be to offer solutions to try to make them feel better or perhaps “walk away” from the conversation and avoid it all together.
What did I do? I just listened and let her talk. When I spoke, it was to offer her a reflection of what I heard, what I felt she was saying. “It sounds like you … It seems like you …“, were common phrases.
In short, I was just present for her. Before she needed my advice, she needed my presence. She needed to know her dad loves her enough to be near her, to listen and let her know I’m there. There were a number of other things I could have done that would have been selfish, vain and put my feelings above hers. In humility, I placed her value above mine.
Ideal relationships start with a humble presence. It’s that simple. Many of us are misinformed and confused by what makes for a healthy relationship, which is why we’re so bad at relationships. Unhindered by guilt or fear, we should be able to delight in each others presence. It takes a perpetual attitude of genuine communion, a simple, loving fellowship between two people. No rituals, ceremonies, or religion. We humans usually get it wrong by confusing “quantity time” with “quality time”.
In my experience, people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. People just want to feel heard. In my relationships, I strive to be likable, make others feel comfortable with me and want them to say “that’s right, you hear what I’m saying“. Only then will they feel the balm I have for their tension is what they want and will act on it.
Take a leap of presence. Experience how it transforms your relationships.