“Let others see their greatness by looking into your eyes.” ~ Mollie Morti
By Maria Sylvester
‘Tis the season of presents. For some, giving gifts is a delicious delight. For others, it is a nerve-racking, stress-filled challenge. Why not take the pressure out of this year’s holiday time? Gift-shopping need not have to throw you into overwhelm. Instead, simply consider nurturing all of your relationships with the gift of presence — your wonderful presence!
How does one practice presence in relationships? First and foremost, you must appreciate your personal significance. Feel into this. Really recognize how much you matter to those in your inner circle — because you do! And your absence, or a distracted, half-there emotional state, is going to be upsetting for those close to you. Surprisingly, this appreciation is not something that comes easily for some people. Many tend to dismiss or devalue their significance. Think about it — if you don’t realize your significance, you are not likely to imagine your presence will impact others or even register to them. And therefore, you’ll be less likely to offer it! I love to remind my coaching clients that the more they know the value of their unique essence, their inner gold so to speak, the more they will strive to be deeply present in (and for) family and friends.
After acknowledging your significance and embracing it within yourself, you can move on to a few specifics of gifting it! Let your state of being present for others include setting your phone down. Better yet, put it away, out of sight. Carve out specific time to be together, face-to-face with your dear ones. Make them a priority! Show this first by approaching them with an open, welcoming posture. Look them in the eye, communicating that you truly want to see them, really deeply see them.
People also feel seen and known when they are compassionately listened to. So, if you aren’t already, get delightfully good at the art of listening! Everyone has stories to share, and they appreciate others making a conscious priority to be present, listening and empathizing with them. It really isn’t, however, what you then say in response to a story shared, but rather how you are holding space for the hearing of it, that provides heart-opening conversations and connections. Intentionally bring a nonjudgmental, non-reactive, curious, and open mind to conversations as part of being present, and watch your communications with others grow in powerful, trust-building ways. A present indeed.
Making a commitment to give the gift of your presence to your relationships this holiday season can also include demonstrating your respect for differences — of opinion, lifestyle, and diversities of cultures and race. Showing one’s openness to differences can free relationships to deepen and flourish much more quickly. When individuals feel safe and comfortable in their connection with another, their guard comes down and their willingness to self-reveal and be forthcoming skyrockets. The gift of presence around differences plays a key role in this type of meaningful, rich interpersonal growth.
Another aspect of gifting one’s presence has to do with the capacity to touch base with those important to us on a regular basis (and sometimes even daily) basis. I like to refer to this as maintaining a meaningful golden thread of connection. Making it a point to touch base consistently in significant relationships, rather that dropping the ball or ignoring opportunities to reach out, has, not surprisingly, an amazing impact. Doing so lets our peeps know they are being thought about. At the same time, as the one reaching out, you are acknowledging and appreciating your value to significant others.
Sweet, thoughtful communication like this deeply touches those we care about; thus, our connections strengthen. So, in this season of presents, savor the opportunity to be present and give it your all!
Maria Sylvester, MSW, CPC, is a regular contributor and great friend of The Brick Magazine. You can find her article for this month on page 50.
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