May I Join You?

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world of possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

I’ve been thinking about some of my clients who have expressed concerns about being authentic and connecting with people. One client lives in a rural area and is having trouble connecting with like-minded people. She feels isolated and lonely. I have another client who is hesitant to be her authentic self yet longs for a meaningful relationship. It got me thinking, why is it so hard for us to share our humanity?

About 3 years ago I participated in a life-transforming program that challenged my beliefs and thoughts about myself. For two intense yet wonderful weeks I put myself in the hands of trust and began to let go of the limiting stories I had created that kept me from fully experiencing my life and being me.

One of the exercises I was invited to experience was called “May I join you?”  The instructions were as follows: We were to be dropped off in the middle of a food court in a bustling downtown shopping area. We were to purchase our lunch, find a stranger or group of strangers sitting at a table and simply ask, “May I join you?”. If we received an affirmative response we were to sit down, not reveal why and eat our lunch.

Now this might not seem like a big deal to some of you, especially if you are from a non—American culture. But, let me assure you, it was a big deal for me, and most of the other participants. As we rode together to the appointed location there was a flurry of anticipation and nervous energy.

We arrived at our destination; I took a deep breath and headed into the crowd. Picture this: walking around (in circles) with a tray of food scanning the room for someone you have the nerve to approach. I wondered, “Would they think I was crazy? Who looked safe? What if that person thought I was coming on to them? What if the person laughed and said no? Who was I to intrude on someone’s space?”

My heart was racing. My anxiety was nearing the red zone. “Why should this be so difficult? They’re only people just like me”.  I tried to comfort myself.

Again, I looked around the room…

As humans we all have the same basic needs for love, approval, recognition and contact. We all want to be liked. While at the same time we covet our privacy and have a need for our own “separate” space. Deep down we really want to connect. Is it any wonder we sometimes feel alone in a world full of people?

Where is your edge of comfort? Are you willing to reach out and make new connections that could support and add value to your life? What inner dialogue prevents you from taking risks that could lead to new relationships or expanded networks?

Here are some perspectives that could assist you in shifting from fear to willingness:

  1. Be yourself. Connect with who you truly are.
  2. Stay curious and interested in people. Stay open to new situations.
  3. Enter playfully and stay unattached to the outcome. Move from a place of possibility and be delighted at what shows up.
  4. Remember, most people have the same insecurities. We’re all on the same side of the fence. Most people welcome connection and would be grateful you made the effort.
  5. Remember, the worst that can happen is someone says no.

I finally settled on a person to ask. It was a woman in her mid fifties and dressed in a grocery store uniform. “May I join you?” I asked. She looked up and smiled, then welcomed me to have a seat. We spent the next delightful thirty minutes together talking about our lives, her job, and my children. It was warm and enjoyable. When we were finished with lunch she got up, thanked me and we both went on our way.

As I walked away to rejoin my group my heart was full and I was laughing. I learned a valuable lesson about myself that day and felt a deeper connection to the rest of humanity.

It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!

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