Have you ever received a letter, a card, or a thank you note, that really touched your heart? Do you remember a teacher or role model who affirmed something special about you? These are the little moments in life when someone took the time to let you know that you were special, that you were loved, and that you were appreciated. And these little moments can have a big impact on us. Those moments when someone takes the time to affirm that we are worthy, have the power to raise us up when we’re feeling low, and give us the strength we need during hard times. Just a few words of encouragement can change how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with the world.
Words have incredible power, yet in a world of Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, are we losing our ability to communicate what is in our hearts and souls? Are we really more interested in telling our loved ones where we just had a coffee and posting a picture of the cup, instead of telling them how much they’ve impacted our lives and how much we love them?
Professionals that work with people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness say that one of the top five regrets of the dying is that they didn’t have the courage to express their feelings to their loved ones. I find it terribly sad that people are leaving this life without expressing their love and appreciation for those closest to them. Perhaps they thought they had more time or weren’t sure how to bring it up. Regardless of the why, not only are they dying with regret but their loved ones must go on with their lives without having heard what they needed to hear.
Often when someone is diagnosed with a terminal or serious illness such as cancer, we hold back telling them how much we care or how important they are because the patient might interpret this new desire to express emotion as a sign that we are giving up on them. So we lightly skim over how we feel and instead favour more superficial communication. Eight years ago I had a medical scare that I didn’t expect to recover from. My family rallied around me, hiding their fear and feelings of helplessness, and instead talked about trivial things that wouldn’t upset anyone. What I was craving to hear was that I mattered. I needed to know that I had made a positive impact on their lives and that they would cherish the memories we had created together.
Here are 5 Tips for breaking through to meaningful conversation.
1. Allow yourself to feel vulnerable. Expressing how you feel can be scary when you’re not sure how the other person is going to react but we’re talking about affirming a loved family member or dear friend. Even if they are embarrassed by your frankness they will still appreciate knowing they have made a difference in your life.
2. Start the conversation by reminiscing about a cherished memory. Shared memories can be a great way to start a heart felt conversation. Choose a memory about a time when the other person made you feel good and this will you give you an opening to tell them how much you appreciated their efforts.
3. Make a game out of it! Have you ever played the What I Love About You Game? This can work well with children and adults alike. Just take turns telling each other little things that you love about each other. This method can work well with mild to moderate dementia patients too.
4. Turn off all distractions. By turning off your phone, tablet, and TV, you are creating an atmosphere where you can connect on a deeper level. It’s hard to convey sincerity if you are continuously looking down at your phone.
5. Sometimes writing a letter is easier than trying to tell them face to face. If you or your loved one aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings then express your love and appreciation in the form of a letter. There are great tips on how to write this type of letter on this site and you can even purchase a step by step guide to writing a Soul Letter in our shop.
I believe that as a society we need to acknowledge and address our loss of heartfelt communication. We need to be the change that we want to see in the world and openly express what is in our heart and soul.
Telling your loved ones how you feel about them is one of the greatest gifts that you can give them. We all need more affirmation, love, and sincerity in our lives and you have the power to give that to the people in your life who you cherish.