Have you ever been a part of a group, but never feel like you’re part of the group?
Like you feel just as awkward and uncomfortable around these same people that you’ve known for years as you did the very first time you met them?
How can you know someone for years, maybe even see them on a daily/weekly basis, and yet still feel distant and separate from them?
This happens. Am I right? What gives? I mean, you should become BFFs with anyone, given enough time hanging out!
As for me, I know my anxiety causes me to self-sabotage. I subconsciously hold myself back from making inroads with others because I am worried about what they will think of me. I maintain a certain distance from them emotionally/psychologically in the name of self-defense. This is annoying because I am naturally very social and I like to be connected with those around me. But my anxiety throws up a roadblock.
So, how do I get over this? Knowing I have a need that is not being met due to an anxiety roadblock? Well, I have to implement a strategy –Bridge the Gap.
OK, But HOW? How do you bridge that gap between acquaintance and friend when anxiety gets in the way?
I forget where I first heard this idea, but as soon as I heard it, I thought, yes! That’s it! It makes so much sense.
close friendship emerges the sooner individuals are able to be vulnerable with each other.
If you can let down your guard and be vulnerable, you could potentially be best friends with someone you’ve known for only three days, while you barely remember the name of your co-worker of 12 years whom you just exchange pleasantries with. (and yes, I did just end that sentence with a preposition. And I liked it)
I never realized that I get stuck in this space. I did not realize what I was doing and how that was preventing me from making real, meaningful connections.
I often hide in the shallow waters of chitchat and polite conversation because I am afraid of revealing too much about myself or offending the other person. Doing this makes me win at not ever embarrassing myself or making others angry, but not at making connections.
In order to bond, two people need to meet in a space of vulnerability.
Realizing that you share something important with someone else is very powerful and often creates a spark without you putting out much effort.
We all know someone who has a way with people – a real social butterfly. They float effortlessly through a party, talking to person after person and creating a fan base. How the heck do they do this? Well, they engage individuals on a deeper level. They go beyond chitchat and search for something real that they have in common. This takes courage because it requires letting your guard down enough to share intimate parts of yourself with folks you don’t know very well. But the only way to know them better and strengthen connections is to share these parts.
The thing is – someone has to go first, so you do it. Come on! Be the first one to disclose a handicap, a struggle, a weakness or an embarrassing moment. The potential rewards of connection and friendship you receive from making yourself vulnerable are well worth it.
And here’s the secret bonus of actively bridging the gap – If you have made the effort several times and you are STILL not jiving with this person/group, then you can have the piece of mind that it’s not you, it’s them. Because, sometimes it really is them. Or it’s not anyone. But most importantly, it’s not you. This is crucial for me to realize because I usually put the blame on myself if I am not connecting with a person/group. But if I consciously make an effort (or several) then I can be assured the lack of connection is not for lack of effort on my part. I have peace of mind that I tried, and then I just accept and move on. I’m not gonna be BFFrs with everyone, and that’s aw-ight 😉
So, go ahead and try it. What do you have to loose? Cut the Crap! Bridge the Gap and see what happens!