Sometimes I notice a theme showing up in my life and for some reason right now it’s presence. Being present is something that eludes us when we are hurried and stressed. Presence does not exist at the mall during the holiday season. The to do lists are long, the tempers are short. Traffic is crazy and the drivers aren’t exactly kind out here in Houston. I would classify them as rushed, on the verge of hostile. These experiences are just a reminder that I need to stop, breathe, reset my intention for the way I want to live my life. I can engage, or I can step back. This year I’m choosing to step back.
How many moments are missed in the rush? Do I want to be kind to the stressed out clerk, or on my cell phone texting, multi-tasking and ignoring the human being in front of me? Any human interaction is an opportunity for connection. I look people in the eye. I listen to what they are saying. I see them. I am present for them. It takes only a couple moments to connect. It is a human kindness to acknowledge the person in front of me.
Presence can mean holding space for someone. When I hold space for someone, my attention is completely on them. I am not talking. I am silent and listening. I am allowing them to be heard. I am not thinking about my response, I’m not ahead of the conversation, I am in it. I am not thinking about anything else except for the conversation that is taking place. People can tell when you don’t care. People feel discounted and discarded when you don’t take the time to acknowledge them and say hello and make eye contact. Our children know when they aren’t being seen or heard which can often result in behavior that will make sure they are seen and heard. Holding space for someone is allowing them to be who they need to be. It’s allowing them to say what they need to say and not responding with judgment. It is oftentimes just being physically present, it is NOT allowing them to be disrespectful or rude. Boundaries are essential.
What I am encouraging you to do is to pause. Stop the mind chatter. Disconnect from the to do list. I’m encouraging us all to be more loving and kind. People say “I’m a nice person, I care about people”. Define people. If people means your people in your circle of friends and family I’m sure you are caring and nice, a homeless man on the street maybe not so much. Let’s be mindful this holiday season that everyone is a human being. We all have feelings, we all have stories and struggles that may not reflect on the outside, but the suffering is intense on the inside. Spend time with someone. Be kind. Less rushing, less fighting, less doing. More loving, more laughing, more BEing. Take the time to see the people who are in front of you or around you in the check out line.
It is OK to let go of everything that is expected and just do your best. Show up, bring some chips and dip, don’t worry about things that will be forgotten in a few weeks or maybe even a few days. There is so much pressure on us all, most of us are adding to that pressure on ourselves. Be gentle with yourself. Scale back on the gifts and increase the gift of time spent together. To me that’s what really matters. Sometimes when my husband comes home from work my back is facing him as I work at my desk. I’ve decided to stop that and face him and welcome him home, I stop what I am doing and face him and say hello. I put my phone down (OK sometimes I don’t), I’m trying to be more mindful of being present and letting him know I love him and he matters because every moment is a gift. Just do your best.
We are entering the 3 week build up to Christmas, it’s up to you to create the experience you want for yourself and your family. Calm down, be kind, listen, shop less, love more, show up, pay attention, give hugs, give tips, play, create and find joy. Somewhere in there, presence will show up and it will be a priceless gift. I know you all can do it, if only for a day! I’m sending big love to all of you!