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Most of us strive to be the best person we can be. We want to have good relationships. We want to be a good friend, spouse, parent or whatever our role may be. However, being human, that is often difficult and sometimes feels downright impossible.

 

While I have no easy five-step plan towards becoming a good relational being, I can offer three basic principles that cultivate intimacy and strengthen bonds.  In both my personal and professional relationships, no matter what I am saying or doing, I want the other person to hear these three underlying messages: “I’m here. I see you. I care.”

I’m Here. In today’s society being physically present can be challenge enough. Finding time to be in the same room can be difficult, but making time creates the space for connection. Simply being physically present is not enough, though. To be fully present with someone means being present in heart and mind, not just body. Full presence is incredibly hard in the midst of ringing doorbells, text message alerts, and internal to do lists. Silencing the phone, turning off the TV, and giving one’s entire focus is one of the greatest gifts we can give another person.

I See You.  One of the most common things kids say is, “Watch me!” As humans, we have an inherent desire to be seen. “I see you” is not just about being seen physically, though. It is about being seen as a whole human being. I want my clients and my loved ones to know that I see who they are, and I am hearing what they are trying to tell me. My hope is to be able to understand their experience and for them to feel understood.

“Humans have an innate desire to be known.”

I Care.  Being present and seeking to understand others are both ways to convey love towards those who matter to us. But we can also convey the same when people share their problems with us. Often, our first instinct is to try and fix things. If the problem is a flat tire, this is most likely the best first response. However, very often “I care” means being willing to be present and listen to the pain first, and offer advice or assistance only if desired by the other person. Showing care can also be expressed by sharing our own feelings for the other person. For example, “I’m angry your friend treated you poorly.” or “I’m sad your heart is grieving.” Showing care is sometimes as simple as being willing to sit in the pain or distress with the other person. Offering part of your heart shows someone how deeply you care.

Humans have a deep need for connection with others and we have an innate desire to be known. Being present, seeking to understand, and showing people they matter help create the safe space where that knowing and connecting can take place. As you contemplate relationships that matter to you, consider using your daily interactions to convey that you are here, you see, and you care – three simple messages that can have profound impact.

About the Author…

Susan is a licensed professional counselor at Central DuPage Pastoral Counseling Center. She works with clients struggling with depression, anxiety, self-worth, PTSD, grief, relationships, and major life transitions.   She also takes special interest in using play therapy to work with children and adolescents    Read more about Susan..