How do you treat strangers?
Do you shy away from interactions or do you connect?
What I’ve noticed is most people look the other way, pull out their phone for company or pretend they didn’t see that person just millimeters from reach.
It’s pretty sad really, given that relationships and the interactions we have with others are what truly nourish us.
This societal trend of ignoring strangers was reinforced during my recent trip to Bali.
Wandering along the village streets – a stranger to the country – children, adults, shopkeepers, home-makers and the like would not only smile at my passing, they would say ‘Hello’. How strange! They would almost jump about in excitement at the opportunity to connect with someone different to themselves.
As a stranger to their land I felt graciously welcomed by their kind greetings and enthusiastic expressions.
Compared to Australian culture it was completely different.
How often do you see someone here enter a stranger’s world through a smile or dare I say ‘eye contact’?
Sure it happens.
But not often.
We live in a very cautious and isolated country.
We are surrounded by people yet we do not give ourselves permission to connect with those people.
Maybe as a child you were taught not to speak to strangers.
Of course you need to exercise a degree of caution, but would there be anything wrong with saying a morning hello to the guy you pass walking his dog every day?
Life is about relationships.
With such a smorgasbord of people to choose from, why hold back?
Why avoid contact? For most people who isolate themselves, it’s a fear of rejection; insecurities that stop you letting people in.
Concerns of being judged or looked down upon.
If this is the case for you, challenge those thoughts.
Who cares if some stranger, you’ll most likely never see again, snubs you on the street?
We learn the most about ourselves through our interactions with others. Don’t let societal conditioning stop you from experiencing life to the fullest.
Let yourself out of your solitary confinement.
Pull your nose out of that novel as you ride the bus to work, get off your mobile phone and connect.
I dare you!
Who knows, you may just learn something.
Every person has such a rich life.
Make it your challenge to connect with someone new everyday – and draw some interesting fact out of them.
Maybe that person sitting opposite you on the train could make a great friend in your lonely world.
Or perhaps just flashing that cyclist a smile one morning could lead to a lifelong romance.
Don’t limit your experiences by building a wall around yourself.
Allow these interactions to nourish your soul.
Be more open and welcoming to others’ approach.
I promise if you do this for a month you will learn more about yourself – your mental strengths and weaknesses, life, what nourishes you – than you will burying your head in the latest romance novel (unless of course it’s my memoir Getting Naked – The Dating Game!).
Life is about learning and growth.
And that happens through relating.
With friends, with strangers, with yourself.
Be a learner of life and notice how your relationships with others and most importantly your relationship with YOU, strengthens as a result.
If you’d like to knock out the insecurities or barriers you have against connecting, I invite you to take part in our Remarkable Relationships online course, so you too can love relating as much as we do!