Reconnected with a former work colleague yesterday. Haven’t spoken with them in years. Paths went different directions and they are now self-employed and seemingly doing very well in a field that they are absolutely suited to.
I was feeling a bit meh about something said recently and spent a bit of time trying to research about not dwelling on things that I have no control over. My former colleague has moved into the positive psychology sphere and that’s what their business revolves around. I decided to reconnect with them on LinkedIn and see if they had any advice.
I find it really hard to connect with people generally. I have a lot of acquaintances via #bellrining and work, but no one that I would say was a “close friend”. In the past, I have rushed to help people at all times of day and night, who I thought were friends, to help them through marriage break ups and bouts of illness and depression, but no one has ever returned that favour. Maybe they don’t see that I need any help, or think that I’m a strong enough person that doesn’t really need it, or they’re so wrapped up in their own issues they can’t see someone else’s. Seemed to have been all take, so frankly, I let them go. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a needy person, but every now and then I need reassurance just like anyone else.
This is why I hate those circulars that do the rounds every now and then on social media about “call me if you need me, I’ll always be there for you” a) I shouldn’t need to call you, if you were really my friend and knew me well enough, you’d know when I needed help or support and b) no you won’t, even if I did call you’d make some excuse for not coming to see me or calling me or reaching out in some way.
I hate the way that I’m supposed to be mindfully of everyone else’s feelings but no one needs to be mindful of mine. How am I supposed to be honest, open and authentic when I have to hold back so much of what I really want to say?
I looked into advice on how to connect with people and it suggests:
- Smile – genuinely and warmly. That’s a difficult one to start with. I hate my smile. We even have a joke in the family about if I smiled no one would recognise me. It’s not because I don’t want to or can’t but that it feels false, even when I don’t mean it to be.
- Invite conversation – showing you are interested in other people by giving a little of yourself then asking about them e.g. “I enjoy reading historical fiction. What sort of books do you enjoy?” Obviously tailor it to the situation, but you get the idea. Trouble is, I don’t like what most people like. I don’t like sport of any kind and am actively turned off when someone starts talking about it. I don’t watch what everyone else seems to be watching on tv. There seems to be very little room for finding a common interest in most situations.
- Offering compliments – might be something someone has done, or what they’re wearing. I do do this, sparingly, otherwise it just gets a bit weird.
- Putting yourself out there – push yourself to be sociable. There are times when I’ve go to a works or #bellringing do because I’ve felt that I’ve had to be seen to be there when really I’d rather be at home with my own company. I have offered invitations to coffee etc and sometimes they are taken up, but then it always ends up being me that organises it. Sometimes it would be nice if the invitation was reciprocated.
- Be yourself – this seems totally contradictory. Myself would be at home, in my own company, minding my own business. Yet the advice has just told me to go out there. There are times when I feel a little bit more at ease with others, but that’s usually because it’s a meeting with a purpose, rather than just a social event.
Hit me with your favourite positivity sites and top tips for connecting with people.
One thought on “Connections and reconnections”
Sorry you feel like that right now. I often feel exactly the same when friends feel its ok for us to make the effort all the time and its never reciprocated. I am mostly happy in my own company but sometimes it would be nice to share and for that sharing to feel free and easy. I think we have bred a society where the competition is to have the most dramatic lives and not much empathy. Let’s hope its something in the water and that these feelings will pass. Any maybe as lockdown eases, it may be easier to make more meaningful connections. That’s what I’m hoping for, so I can start making my new life here 🤞