If you have spent any time around young children you will know that they are generally more honest and forthcoming than adults. After playing with a friend’s four-year-old for ten minutes he looked me in the eye and said, “I like you. Let’s be friends.” As we grow older we quickly learn that some things are not “appropriate” to say—even if they are nice things.
Our culture makes it so easy to feel isolated by technology and social politeness. It’s time to start reintroducing these simple truths to our everyday conversation with the people around us. If we begin to tell each other more emotionally honest and vulnerable things, we will be able to foster deeper connections with each other and encourage each other on a more foundational level.
“I like you. Let’s be friends.”
Maybe those exact words aren’t the best ones to use… but why not!? In adult friendships it’s rarely appropriate to express a genuine, platonic enjoyment of each other. I have met people in my adult years that I just hit it off with. We talked well together. We had similar interests. They made me laugh. I honestly wanted to develop a deeper friendship with them but I didn’t have the confidence to tell them, “Hey—I like you. Let’s be friends” and those people filtered out of my life. I will never have those friendships.
If we have the confidence to be honest about our affections for people we will have the chance to develop deep friendships with the people we choose to have in our life.
“I forgive you.”
When children hurt each other on the playground there is generally a sprinkle of tears, a round of comfort, an admittance of guilt and request for forgiveness. Often the child who was hurt responses with, “I forgive you.” and the games continue. When adults hurt each other and ask for forgiveness the most common responses are, “It’s okay.” or “Don’t worry about it.” These flippant phrases that we toss out at each other are not very helpful in truly resolving conflict. If we can own that a situation was hurtful, but you still forgive someone there is healing for ourselves and healing for the other person.
When someone we love is going through a difficult time there is all this pressure to say or do the right thing. When a friend is grieving or struggling you can’t fix their pain. Trying would only cause further pain.The best way to support your loved ones is to simply say, “I’m here.” Just being present for your friend through their pain is the most honest and helpful way you can love your friend.
“I need help. Will you help me?”
Some where in the process of adolescence we stop admitting our weaknesses. Our culture praises self-starters who don’t ask for help and don’t need any. Pretending to have it all figured out is now the expectation. We are told to “pull ourselves up by our boot straps” and “fake it ’til you make it.” But we are not created to live life in isolation. We need each other. There is not one person on this planet that would reach their highest potential on their own. We have the capability to help each other be better versions of ourselves. By admitting your imperfections you are able to grow. Inviting each other into our imperfections allows us to become a better community—a community that cares for each other. We need to tell each other when we need help so our friends and family have the opportunity to intervene in our lives and give us the support we need.
Being able to tell each other these simple and honest phrases takes vulnerability and courage, but without those things we will never create deep and meaningful relationships. We tell each other these things often enough, but we should start saying them now.
Featured photo credit: Dan Cooper via stokpic.com