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Give The Present Of Presence

I realize that not everyone will be celebrating Christmas this week, but whatever your flavor this season, I feel like this advice applies.

Some back story. These past few months I’ve been trying to be on my phone less. I’ve been catching myself doing mindless scrolling on Facebook. I’ve been resisting the habit of grabbing my phone when I have some downtime while waiting in line or the like. And I’ve tried to limit my social media outlet of choice, not checking and interacting on all of them all of the time. I’m a sucker for pretty pictures, so I spend most of my time on Instagram! @naturallyrandikay 🙂

It’s been challenging, but rewarding. It’s eased some anxiety. I’ve noticed my surroundings more. I’ve had wonderful thoughts and ideas pop in during the quiet moments. But the most important perk is that I’ve been able to be more present with whomever I’m with, be it the cashier at the store or my best friend.

The downside of changing a habit is that it makes you more aware of everyone else that is doing the habit you are trying to change. I’ve had to find a balance between standing up for people being more present with me (i.e. nagging, um, I mean, lovingly nudging them to get off of their phones), and letting them live their own life. Letting them choose for themselves if they want to be fully engaged with me or the people we are with.

I also catch myself doing it, which is good because it starts feeling less and less natural and OK with how I want to be.

I’ve quoted this before, but it’s worth quoting again and again and again.

“The more connected we are, the more disconnected we are from the people that matter the most.”

But seriously folks. I’ve made great strides in being less connected to technology, but I’m not perfect. I’ve been shocked at how hard it is to disconnect and how habitual I am with being connected. It’s kind of scary really.

I will say that technology is an amazing thing in our lives and it enables us to connect with people all over the world, be it loved ones who live far away or connecting with new people. But our relationship with it has gotten out of whack.

I challenge you to start noticing your own habits. I’m not asking you to change anything yet, but just notice. How frequently to check social media? How often to reach for your phone when you have a quick second? How often are you on your phone when someone in real life is talking to you? How often do you disengage from conversations to see what’s happening online?

Ok, so now back to my main point. A lot of us will be spending time with family and other loved ones this week. Friends in from out of town. You are traveling home to see people you haven’t seen forever. Or you maybe are going home with a significant other to meet a bunch of new people.

Give them the gift of really being there with them. Try to get to know something about them that you didn’t know before. Take the family small talk to a new level. If you are really different, find some common ground. Or just keep asking questions and then they get to do all of the talking.

Don’t be that guy or gal at the table or in the corner just farting around on their phone. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is. People notice, but it’s become so normal that no one says anything.

Try to think of a time where someone was truly present with you? How did it make you feel? Now think of a time where the conversation was constantly being interrupted with technology. How did that make you feel?

From my own experience, I get a little hurt when I’m trying to connect with someone and their attention is elsewhere. To me, there is nothing more amazing than pure, deep connection. I love it.

I get energized from it. I actually don’t do small talk very well. It’s draining and annoying. I love to get to the good stuff. And if you’ve spent time talking to me, you’ve experienced it with me. So when people give me their full attention, it means the world.

And if human connection freaks you out, it’s ok. I know that social anxiety is a real thing, but social media and other technology feeds into social anxiety. It’s just going to make it worse. Power through, dear reader. You will be better for it.

Alright, I’ll step down from my soapbox for now. But I invite you to take a serious look at how you are connecting. Separate your time to connect with the people in your everyday life from connecting with the rest of the world. That will make both kinds of interactions more intentional and fulfilling.

I wish you all of the season's blessings and merriment and so forth and to all a good night!


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