Reaching Out

Linda Blair studied psychology at Wellesley College and Harvard University in America, then trained as a clinical psychologist at the Maudsley Hospital (University of London). She’s worked in the NHS, for the Medical Research Council and at the Universities of Cambridge and Bath, and she had a private clinical psychology practice for 35 years. She joins us here as part of our Mindfulness series of posts to help both human and hound. 

When we think about communication, most of us think of sending an email or text, or messaging on social media. That kind of information exchange is important, but maintaining truly satisfying relationships with others involves much more.

Human beings are meant to affiliate and rely on one another. Because we develop and mature more slowly than other creatures, we’re ‘hard-wired’ to belong, to feel part of a supportive group. That’s why, when we don’t take time to communicate fully with people those around us, when we rely entirely on remote communication, we start to feel anxious and alone–even when our inbox is full.

What can you do to make sure you feel truly connected to those around you? Here are some suggestions:

Arrange to meet up face-to-face. Plan to meet up with a friend or family member at least once a week, perhaps to share a meal or to enjoy a dog walk together.

When you’re with another person, listen fully to what they have to say. There’s no greater compliment than being listened to fully. When someone wants to talk, turn off your devices, look at them, and give them the gift of your full attention.

Offer genuine compliments whenever you can. This is easy when you know someone—you can compliment them on their new hairstyle, or tell them how well they look. But you can also brighten up a stranger’s day simply by thanking them warmly for opening a door, or by wishing them a cheerful good day as you pass by. Those small genuine gestures are moments of real connection.


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