So much of our days are spent looking like we have everything put together. We often don’t let people around us know what we’re struggling with, what we’re being challenged by, or where we need help. Certainly in America there is the thought that we should be “pulling ourselves up by our boot straps” without requiring assistance from others.
I don’t think this is always the case. While there are times when we need to make an individual effort to drive change, I think we often overlook the benefit of sharing parts of our life with other individuals or a small group of like-minded people.
I am fortunate to be involved in 3 different groups of people ranging in size from 2 to 7 people. These are informal groups that get together on a regular basis to discuss a topic that has significance in each person’s life. One thing that has amazed me about each of these groups is how once people learn that the group is a safe place, how quickly they are to get real about their struggles and challenges. In addition, people are also willing to offer encouragement to others, often borne out of their own experience with the same challenge or struggle another group member is facing. These groups are also a great place for people to share their success with others who are genuinely excited to see others in the group succeed.
I don’t know if most people have a group, or an individual, they can be real with and with whom they can encourage and be encouraged by. My guess is that they don’t.
Regardless, I think we each have the capacity as individuals to provide opportunities for others to be real around us. It can be as simple as:
- Actually listening to someone when they are telling us about what’s going on in their life instead of quickly jumping in and telling them what we’re up to.
- Asking probing questions about what/how they’re doing, if you feel like there’s more to what someone is telling you, and it seems like they’d like to share
- Sharing a similar struggle you’ve had that they are currently experiencing, and how you either have or are overcoming it. This lets them know that they’re not the only one who has struggled in this area.
We all have struggles and challenges. We also have the capacity to lighten these burdens others carry by listening to them, encouraging them and celebrating the victories that often follow.
Be aware of the conversations you’re having with those closest to you and look for opportunities to get real with them. It’s likely to result in a deeper relationship as well as the sense that you had a positive impact in the life of someone else.