Is There Anybody There ?


“Is there anybody there?” At our darkest moments, we wonder if there really is anyone who will, or can, walk through life with us. Is there anyone we can trust? Is there someone who cares? We deserve and require mutually supportive relationships. There is no health in being a lone ranger, taking on the world alone. We need a sidekick or two we can count on. We need a sense of community.

At our brightest moments, too, we need our community to share our victory, our breakthrough, our joy, our success. We want to celebrate and be celebrated.

Each of us has a need to feel that we belong–you, me, even the guy who says he doesn’t. It is a basic, healthy human need. Saying we belong or appearing to belong are poor substitutes for feeling we belong. Deep inside, many people feel like observers rather than participants in life.

It is unfortunately common that for many reasons–environment, family, culture, religion, peers—people accept a “less than” feeling which continuously colors their relationships with themselves and others. There is a great way—a private, secret way—to lift your spirits and your self-esteem. Do it only if you want to feel confident, loved and accepted. Here’s the secret exercise:

Each morning, when you put your feet over the side of the bed, go directly to the bathroom mirror. Do not clean your teeth, brush your hair or wash your face. Instead, get up close and personal with the mirror. Look yourself directly in your eyes and hold your gaze. Then say,

I love you.
I accept you.
I approve of you just the way you are.” and throw yourself a big kiss!

Come on, do it. It is not easy at first to hold your own eyes and say those things to yourself. If you will be persistent, you will be delighted with the results.

One of my coaching clients, doing this exercise herself and finding great value, decided to share it. She volunteers with a mentally-handicapped young man of thirty-five who was very depressed. He wanted to learn to read and it wasn’t going well. She made it into a great game and he was enthused. He practiced all the time. Magic! His reading improved along with his self-esteem. The depression lifted. Now he is very excited about helping his friends read, too. This simple exercise brings huge rewards.

We all want family, or something that feels like family. We want to be known, seen, and heard. We long to be appreciated for who we are, without performance, without struggle, without concern. And, that’s all about being in a community we choose.

My mother used to say, “We were given our relatives. Thank God we can pick our own friends.” Apparently she wasn’t thrilled with her family, but, there is truth in it. Haven’t you ever thought or heard, “I love my _______ but I just don’t like her/him.” We’ve been taught that we’re supposed to love some people just because we share genes with them, however, we would not invite them to be our friends if we met them at the lunch counter. Once we recognize this fact, we can actively and clearly move towards creating the community we want.

Spend no time on what you don’t want! Once you begin to notice your conversation, you may find that you spend time complaining about what you don’t want, talking about people you don’t like and commiserating about a less than inspiring workplace. Change that. You choose what you think, what you say and what you do. Make it constructive. Don’t allow your life energy to be spent in a negative, non-productive way. Choose differently. You have that power.

We can create the “family” we most want. That is very do-able. You can attract people into your life who will love, support, respect and enjoy you as you do them. A great place to start is being the person you want to attract and being where you most enjoy being. While you’re doing those things, you’ll create community: satisfying relationships with engaged, involved, enthusiastic people.

Abundance is found in community, not alone. When we spend time in the company of people who share our values, interests and passions we come alive and feel connected. As Parker J. Palmer wrote: “we need trustworthy relationships, tenacious communities of support, if we are to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. That journey has solitary passages, to be sure, and yet it is simply too arduous to take without the assistance of others.”

OK! You promised! Make that your morning salute to yourself and do it every morning!


Rhoberta Shaler, PhD

*Dr. Shaler has also written a book by this name which is available at the website below and on Amazon