In the TV show the Big C, Cathy (Laura Linney) is diagnosed with terminal cancer. During the first series, Cathy does what many of us dream of doing, but never do: tell people what they mean to her.
Too many of us don’t take the time to tell our loved ones how we feel about them or engage with them in a truly meaningful way. We don’t tell them how much we value their company or how much we miss them, for example, if they are living overseas.
We can also let issues – whether real or perceived – fester, preferring instead to engage in a Mexican standoff.
Thankfully, we don’t have to wait until we are getting our affairs in order to give feedback to those we care about.
“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together.”
Jon is making a successful living from his love and passion, so we know he is wise (he has published several books about his dogs). While friends are of course very important, you can substitute ‘friends’ for your spouse, partner, mother, father, brother, sister, or any other relationship that it important to you.
As Jon says, we need to be present to those we care about. In our busy lives, relationships of all sorts can get pushed into the background.
Being present needn’t take long. Drop them a line to show you are thinking about them, no matter how far away you are or however long it has been. Send them a link to something you know that will make them laugh, a photo of a shared happy occasion, or something relating to an in-joke you share. You could also send them a card (and not just on special occasions like birthdays!) to say you were thinking of them, how much you care about them, or what they mean to you.
Whether or not we would admit it to someone else, we all want to feel valued. Such small, random acts of kindness can make someone’s day.
We can worry too much about how we will be perceived if we tell loved ones how we feel about them, or how they make us feel. Will they think I am too pushy? Or needy? Or sad? Don’t let pride get in your way if something really matters to you.
Giving up on relationships of any kind can sometimes seem like an easy option, especially when there has been a perceived slight. We might assume the other must surely realise the offence they have caused. Resentment creeps in and nestles in a little corner of your mind. We might avoid the other person, thinking they will get the message. Weeks turn into months, months turn in to years….
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” Henry Winkler
Listen to The Fonz! He knows what he is talking about. Life is too short and we never know what may be around the corner. Sort it out before the situation is irrevocable.
Newsflash: people aren’t psychic.
So, swallow that pride. Communicate. Sometimes we might need to make the first move, say how we feel and check what the situation really is.
Putting your cards on the table can take a bit of guts and, unfortunately, there is no easy way to approach it.Think of it as like taking off a plaster: it will sting for a moment, but then it’s ok. That little bit of discomfort is surely better than realising what you have missed out on because of stubbornness, assumptions or a plain old lack of communication.
Do not enter in to such conversations with self-centered interests: be prepared to ask if you have done anything wrong and, even more importantly, be prepared to put it right. Breaking news! We none of us are perfect.
Some people may appreciate this candour, meaning you can clear the air and have a laugh at how silly you have both been. Once you realise how honest you can be with each other, you might find new depths to your relationship.
Others might take a bit of time. Others still might not get it at all. Don’t let this dissuade you though: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Chalk it up to experience and move on. Let them be, knowing you have tried your best.
Be kind to yourself and to those you care about. Don’t wait until it is too late. Have no regrets.
“We know from daily life that we exist for other people first of all, for whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.”