Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘human connection’

The Best Christmas Gifts!

About this time in our rush to finish Christmas shopping we may begin to struggle with gift ideas for those hard to buy for friends or family members. We may have tapped out our resources and are beginning to get concerned about spending more money and for good reason. Did you know that the average family takes 2.6 months to pay off their Christmas bills? That fact helps to put things in perspective. Starting the new year with a mound of bills coming due places a lot of pressure on us yet we may think that a purchased gift is expected to show that we care. Maybe there is another way. If you are trying to come up with ideas for those last minute gifts which won’t break the bank here are six gift ideas that don’t cost a bundle yet can touch the hearts of those special people in our lives.

The Gift of Listening – without interrupting, daydreaming or planning your response you apply the skills of active, engaged listening to someone that really needs to be heard. No matter that you may have heard what they are repeating before you just honor their right for a caring ear when they need it most.

The Gift of Affection – being generous with hugs, kisses, pats on the back and words of encouragement help to remind the person how special they are to you and demonstrate the love you hold in your heart for them.

The Gift of Laughter – including a humorous article or reiterating a funny experience you had with them in a Christmas card or email tells the other person that you remember a special time when you brought out the laughter and joy in each other.

The Gift of a Note – taking the time to put in writing how you feel about the other person is a gift that just keeps on giving. Often, these words of love and appreciation are kept for a lifetime, reread throughout the year, and may even change a life.

The Gift of Something From Your Kitchen- whipping up a batch of cookies or brownies does not take an inordinate amount of time yet can help the other person who may not have an extra moment add a little something special to their holiday table.

The Gift of Time – setting aside 10 minutes to reach out and call someone to let them know that you are thinking of them warms their heart and tells them that you truly care. The positive energy they receive by hearing your voice can make their day.

We can purchase all kinds of things, wrap them in pretty paper and put a bow on top but the best – most valuable gifts – come from our hearts. Those kind remind the special people in our lives that they matter – that their presence in our life has meant something – that we are grateful for the shared journey. That message speaks louder than anything we can buy.

I offer my thanks to all of you who have read my blogs throughout the years. I hope I have been able to give you some food for thought from these postings. My next blog will be on December 31st. to usher in the New Year – stay tuned and have a wonderful Christmas!

Best Friend or Dependency Friend?

Human relationships are so important for us and the relationship between best friends is as the term implies – simply the best. Is it because they always agree with us or compliment us? No. In fact, a best friend is one who may disagree with us at times because they feel confident enough in the friendship to do so. We know, deep down in our hearts, that they only comment because they are concerned. The biggest thing we share with a best friend is our authentic self. We know that they will not judge, cajole or manipulate us into wanting what they want but encourage us to seek our own happiness and spread our wings and fly. Sometimes this means that we move on with our own life and the extreme closeness that we once shared may be altered slightly. Our time and thoughts need to be allocated differently so life as we once knew it with our best friend needs to change to accommodate our own life changes. When we have a best friend we want what is best for them and know that they also want what is best for us – terms and timelines or touch points become less important because our friendship still remains deep.

Sometimes a relationship between best friends can become one of dependency over time. The change happens subtly but we can tell when the relationship becomes more of a need rather than a want basis. When we begin to need to touch base (like many of us need that first cup of coffee in the morning) the relationship has devolved from wanting to talk to needing to talk and it’s time to do a gut check. Is it now a relationship of possessiveness, control, dependency – does the exact word even matter? The change from best friend to dependency friend usually morphs slowly overtime until one day we realize our personal independence or any influence in our lives other than our best friend is either discounted or at least regarded by them as a threat. When a friendship becomes dependent the mere thought of not touching base frequently becomes uncomfortable. Often, abandonment at an early age is the seed that germinates into dependency for one of the two people involved and results in a fear of change, risk or loss. The best friend may then have difficulty adjusting to any change in our relationship with them and may even find a subtle way to cause us to feel guilty by not giving them enough attention. If a dependency friendship exists and one of the parties is making a life change without them they may become more needy, unhappy or even delay making decisions or following through. In reality that is another subtle yet unspoken message that they are ‘just not the same without us.’ Basically, they are not happy having to share us with others. The longer this type of relationship exists the stronger the manipulations get to control our personal space. To them the idea of sharing us with others means, ‘We must not love them best.’ Sound a bit childish? Remember where abandonment starts and it makes sense. They may even become angry, hurt, depressed and question our true feelings about them if they feel threatened by what they see as any loss of control or influence that they have had on us. Sadly, with their choice to become ‘exclusive’ in their friendship with us they are refusing to grow in life and develop additional friends. Overtime they can become cynical and disappointed with life in general. To help them they need to be pushed, ever so gently to get on with their own life as we get on with ours. Purposely reducing the time and attention to them will slowly help the friendship regain a healthier balance.

Recalibrating a dependency friendship back into a healthy best friend relationship is difficult and often resentment and even guilt will be felt until a more healthy equilibrium is once again achieved. However, the change is essential for both parties to experience a full authentic life with others. A healthy relationship is one that is secure enough to know that neither party needs the ‘psychological possession’ of the other to make it in life.

A best friend encourages you to experience life both with and without them. They truly want to see you go for the gold and live your authentic life because simply and truly they love you with a heart that is selfless. It is not about what they get out of the relationship but what they see you becoming that is more exciting and rewarding to them. In their heart the friendship is so much more than possession – it is one of simply being.

Have a great few days!

Survivor Guilt

Survivor Guilt also known as survivor syndrome was first identified in the 1960’s. It was the topic of a CNN special aired this week and dealt with an important aspect related to loss, grief and healing. The program delved into the topic by reviewing aviation. In the history of air flight only 14 people have survived major airplane crashes that resulted in a sole survivor. Many live with the question of ‘Why was I spared’ which seems to be a burden they carry for the rest of their lives. During the interviews some of these survivors made the comment, ‘I’m supposed to be grateful I survived but…’

In researching this topic It appears that this type of guilt is more common that we might first imagine. We know that many of our brave servicemen who return from war suffer from PTSD which often includes this type of guilt. But in addition, this type of guilt may even surface when a person experiences the death of a loved one and can be a major challenge to overcome.

The symptoms related to survivor guilt can included anxiety, social withdrawal, depression, physical complaint and loss of drive. Basically, the reason, purpose and relevance of life is called into question by the survivors. Without help they can become stuck in a space of anger, denial and feelings of hopelessness.

Recognizing this in ourselves or others is paramount for healing. Regardless of the type of situation involved in the loss we are suffering, we did not cause the loss and, in fact, could not have prevented it. The Universe is much more powerful than we are and destiny plays a major role in our lives. Each one of us has chosen the lessons and lives that would result in helping us learn our lessons. The loss of a loved one and our survival was the result of a life agreement long, long ago. Unfortunately, being human we sometimes believe that we should have been powerful enough, smart enough or wise enough to prevent the loss from happening. That’s just not how the Universe works.The American Politician William Jennings Bryan said, ‘Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved (and understood).

When we reach out to others to help them process their grief it can make their grief a bit easier to handle. Any one of us may say just the right thing at just the right moment to help someone begin to overcome survivors’ grief. It is always worth the try and even if we do not see immediate improvement it is again, worth continuing our effort to reach out to a fellow traveler who is suffering.

Being there for someone and encouraging them to talk about their loss experience
helps immensely. Everyone needs someone to listen to them from time to time and experiencing a loss intensifies this need. It is always better to surface the feelings regardless of their nature than to keep them bottled up inside. Think of it as helping a potential volcano release some of the pressure before a full fledged eruption. A person’s loss may, at times, be like lava seething, bubbling just below the surface creating the type of pressure that can cause them to explode unless the occasional stem vents ( in the form of conversation and connection) surface to help release the pressure little by little.

We are here to learn our individual lessons and make the world a little better place by being in it. Helping others through their loss allows us to become a conduit for healing.

Have a great few days!