On Valentine’s Day, I made a quick run to the grocery store. As I cut through a path in the parking lot, a rock caught my eye. I stopped to pick it up.
The painted message accomplished its purpose. It made me smile.
The worn design also made me wonder if someone planted the rock in the pine straw during the pandemic—a time when we made an extra effort to reach out and feel connected to one another. In those days, we learned that a simple text message or happy hour over Zoom had the power to transcend time and distance.
Everyday interactions can feel much more complicated. Even as a writer, I understand that communication is hard. Today, I wanted to share some resources that are helping me navigate my relationships.
To help you set healthy boundaries:
I discovered Nedra Glover Tawwab in this podcast with Jen Hatmaker. Before I listened to their conversation, I struggled with the concept of boundaries. Boundaries felt like the walls we put up to keep people from getting too close.
Instead, setting healthy boundaries is the process of getting in touch with our own needs so we can clearly and effectively communicate them to others. If we don’t fully understand our own boundaries, how can we expect others to know what they are?
To help you find the right words:
Research has proven that many of us don’t have the language to adequately express how we feel. Sometimes the words we use—because we can’t find the ones that feel just right—affects our relationships and how we interpret our own experiences.
Brené Brown saves the day with her book Atlas of the Heart. At first glance, it may appear to read like a textbook. But if that’s the case, it’s the most beautiful and interesting text book in all the land—complete with pretty fonts, photos, and Brown’s signature storytelling. It’s also available as an audiobook and there’s a fantastic series on HBO Max. Personally, I’m exploring all three.
There’s a lot to unpack, but just knowing that language can be a barrier to connection is helping me offer myself and others grace when we’re moving through the conversational mud.
To help you listen:
For several years, I’ve used the free version of the Voxer app to swap messages with friends and sometimes my husband. It’s a walkie-talkie style app for your phone that allows you—with the press of a button—to have conversations with more ease than leaving a bunch or voice mails or trying communicate with an audio text message, which can get testy if you talk too long.
The thing about Voxer that’s so great, and sometimes better than a live, in real life conversation: it gives you the stage to say everything you want to say, and the receiver can listen at a time that works for them. For me, it’s usually when I’m driving.
Voxer is teaching me how to listen all the way. If the person is telling a story, trying to explain something, or goes from one thought to the next, I have to hold space for all of it. It’s teaching me how to respond in a more thoughtful way, instead of reacting and interrupting. It’s a work in progress.
On that same note: the book Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan has also taught me a few things about listening. I’m learning to say “tell me more” or some variation of that, especially when my children are telling me a story. It’s saving me from my impulse to jump in and fix it or ask too many questions, which often makes the other person shut down.
Now it’s your turn:
Tell me more. Have you discovered any tips or resources to help you “people” better? Leave them in the comments.
Next week on Instagram:
My friend, writer, and podcaster Lauren Lanoue is hosting me for a Coffee Chat on Instagram Live. We’re going to talk about what it means to create a life that feels like home. Join us next Wednesday, February 22 at 10:30 a.m.
Thank you for reading Hello Friday. I’m so glad you’re here. You can support my weekly newsletter by sharing it on social media or with a friend.
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