I HAVE BEEN SEEING THIS SENTIMENT FLOATING AROUND THE INTERNET LATELY AND I AM 100% HERE FOR IT.
Check ins can be as simple as a, “hey, how are you doing?” It is a moment where we stop being selfish (because let’s face it, we all are) and realize others exist outside of us and they may need us. It is so easy to forget that everyone is dealing with their own problems, and sometimes a check in can make a world of difference for someone.
I do check ins with a lot of my people, my son being one of them. If I can tell he is having a tough time (or sometimes, even if he seem fine, because not everything manifests in a way I can sense) I ask him a few key questions to get him talking an help him learn to navigate his emotions through verbalizing them and hopefully, that will in turn help him become better at communicating in general. In my own experience, it is usually miscommunication that causes most misunderstandings and not the actual problems themselves, so here are a few ways you can talk to your friends about things they may never bring up on their own.
First off, go in with no expectations and remember that this is not about you, this is about your friend. You are checking in because you want to let your people know that you are there for them, that you see them, that you care, and that they can come to you. When I ask my son how he is, I am not doing it for mom points, I do it to be a present parent. So if you check in, and your friend doesn’t want to talk, that’s okay. Everyone deals in different ways, but the important thing is that you’ve let them know that should they ever need to talk, they can come to you.
Next, it is good to have some short questions that you can ask versus some long winded speech about how you care and want them to open up and stuff. Some people can feel pressured and then they will close up even more, and that is not good for anyone.
Here are some that I have found to be successful and not so overwhelming:
- What is weighing heavy on your heart?
- How have you been feeling?
- On a scale from 1-10, where is your head right now? (this one works great for Jack and you can learn more about it and where I got the idea from here)
- What can I do to help? or Is there anything I can do for you?
Those are just a couple that have worked for me and some of my people and they may not necessarily work for yours. I know if I went to my best friend and said, “what is weighing heavy on your heart today?” she would laugh, say WTF and call me a weirdo and dismiss the question. So knowing what would work for your buds is helpful too.
It should be natural. Don’t just bust up into the room and be like HEY I’VE NOTICED YOU’VE BEEN STRUGGLING LATELY AND I’D LOVE TO KNOW WHATS THE DEAL AND HOW I CAN HELP!!! Feel out the conversation, if it doesn’t make sense to check in right then, there will be other opportunities. Plus, some people are not good with face to face interactions about such sensitive stuff. So….
Texting is always good. It is a really low key way to show your support without it making people feel pressured. “Good morning, I hope you have a good day today. I have been thinking about you a lot, so I wanted to reach out and just let you know that you’re on my mind. Let me know if you wanna get coffee or something soon, I’d love to spend some time with you.” It is kind of a preface to the check in. So many feelings come out over coffee, so an invite to hang out is a nice way to sort of set the scene so to speak? I don’t know about you but my friends are busy bees, so setting aside some time for each other is a non verbal way to let them know you’re there for them.
My last tip for you is to start the conversation. I know this from running CB, if you are open, communicative and transparent with your issues, it can open the floor for others to speak out too. I share a lot of things with my crybabies, and while of course, it is cathartic for me to get things off my chest, it also empowers me when the emails start coming in. Floods of stories come my way and they usually all include something along the lines of, “thank you for sharing your story with me, it makes me feel less alone and more inspired to share my own.” Recently I have had a lot of my IRL people come to me and tell me things they’re dealing with things that I would never have known if I hadn’t opened myself up and shown them that they can talk to me, they can trust me, because I trust and talk to them. The power of community, communication and transparency cannot be overstated.
Everyone wants to feel that they belong, that they are seen and valued. Yes, it is lovely to joke, laugh, dance and play with your friends, but it is just as lovely and just as important to be vulnerable with them. Checking in is showing your friends that you are a soft place for them to land, should they need it.
Checking in reminds me of my favorite scene from The Labyrinth. With the journey over and the battle won, it was time for Sara to go back home. Her friends, however, showed up one last time and simply said, “should you need us” and she knew that she could call on them if she ever needed to again.
So check in with your friends, they may need you and not know it, or they do know and don’t know how to ask.