Monthly Emails

With whom do you choose to spend your free time with

August 22, 2015

This article is about the art of hanging out. While it might seem like a trivial topic, I believe it can provide a crucial piece of healing that each of us needs as humans.

For instance, a friend and I recently sat on my back porch, simply staring at the trees for hours. We didn't talk much, but when we did the conversation flowed through topics with no direction or agenda.

Silence was comfortable and the breeze filled the space between us.

In that moment, we were two travelers sitting quietly together as witnesses and appreciators of each other's existence.

We didn't feel the need to alter our mood, wardrobe, environment, thoughts, or words. Our defenses weren't up and we had no filter for what we could say.

This form of acceptance can heal some of our deepest wounds, and yet it doesn't always happen naturally.

The art of hanging out requires conscious awareness of where you are in relation to others.

So let's talk about how to grow the quality of your time and relationships.

1. Get clear about WHY you are connecting with a person. Sometimes our conversations have a purpose. We need information or assistance. We want to tell someone what happened or we want another's opinion.

This is natural and it's helpful to let the other person know you have an intention, "I am calling for information. I respect your time and know it's valuable. Are you willing to have a conversation with me?" Conversely, we can say, "Hi. I'm calling to say hello. Are you up for a chat?"

2. Notice how you answer the telephone! Depending on your opening, you can either allow connection or block it.

Here's what we say when we assume there's a purpose to the call: What's up? What can I do for you? What do you need? This is appropriate at times, but it can also cut off a chance for connection.

Here's what we can say when we want connection: How have you been? Tell me what's happening for you? What have you been up to? This allows conversation to go beyond surface dialogue.

3. It is important to know when you have a secret agenda. Do you say you just want to hang out, but you're hoping for a specific outcome? Do you want to convert someone to your line of thinking? Do you have a need to be understood or to be proven right?

These hidden intentions are usually felt, even though they are not spoken. This damages trust and bonding. In these situations, we must recognize our need for control or manipulation, and then reframe our thinking or confess the goal we are hoping to achieve.

4. Write down five people you genuinely enjoy hanging out with; people who GET you and don't require you to be ON. Send them a prayer of thanks, wherever they may be, and make it a priority to surround yourself with these easy and enriching relationships.

5. Write down those whose presence is draining to you. Who is difficult to be around? Now for the hard part... who are YOU difficult for? Do you call for information only? Do you ever seek connection without an agenda? If not, alter your approach and see what happens.

 Hanging out might seem silly as adults, but I urge you to soak up the richness of each other's company. In the end, these are the memories we cherish most. These are the connections that never break.

Relationships are complicated. If you would like support in navigating yours, I'm here . 

Until next time,

Suzi Caffreys

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