We aren’t locked into our habitual roles if we examine them. The challenge is that so much of life is automatic, especially in busier periods, that we revert to our habits rather than carrying out our best intentions. We’re operating from habits rather than our best options if our days are a blur, and our relationships aren’t what we’d like them to be. Perhaps our circle of friends all expects a lot from us and doesn’t help out, perhaps our time together could be more warm or fun. In this case we need to look at ourselves and all the small decisions that make up our interactions with our friends and family, and see how our choices shape these relationships.
When we want to connect with someone, we make small gestures, called “emotional bids”, to get their attention. If they respond, we continue. The process of making a move is called emotional bidding because bidders raise the stakes on cards or an item for auction. It’s easy to miss an emotional bid when we’re preoccupied, or when we have a set opinion of the person doing the bidding. We might assume that someone is mad at us and miss a kind gesture, or fail to acknowledge a gift.
Responding to emotional bids brings a closer connection with the people around us, and stronger relationships in which we see people, and they see us, more as we are and less as we think we are. Responding with attention to the real events happening now instead of on autopilot based on our ideas about the people around us helps us to walk in the truth.
Ask yourself questions like these to see how you can do better in relationships:
Do I make eye contact?
Do I smile?
Do I share fun stories?
What are my gifts to share?
Am I affectionate?
Do I give good gifts?
Do I reassure people who need it?
Do I like to plan parties or surprise people?
Do I pray for my friends and family?
Do I show people they matter to me?
Do I put down the phone or book and pay attention?
Do I value the time of others?
Do I look for the good in people?
Do I thank them?