I think we'll inaugurate a new feature for the blog. I so enjoy the Bumper Sticker of the Week that I thought it might be fun to have some other periodic thing we can mess around with. So, how's this: List of the Month? I know, I know, you guys must think I'm such a nerd. But, whatever... let's give it a whirl.
I don't even know if it will be monthly (I'm not that organized). But lists are concrete and they help people try new things in an organized, systematic way.
I think for the first one we'll try: 7 things you can do to help lessen the out of sight out of mind syndrome.
1. predict its occurrence- for example, when you are getting near the end of a movie with a friend, prepare yourself gently for the fact that after she gets into her car and you get into yours you may feel anxious and/or worried. Things are less frightening if they don't seem random and unpredictable to us.
2. make concrete representations of relationships- I've had people find or create objects that are symbolic of connections. Sometimes people carry around rocks, drawings of those they love or of the relationship itself, or photos. Some people like to wear jewelry that symbolizes a relationship. Connections are intangible (which doesn't make them less real of course) and it can be nice to have a tangible representation. I recommend carrying the object around- so don't make it too big!
3. ask questions so you can gather evidence- it's fine, and a good idea to gather information from anyone closely involved in your life; anyone who is close enough to know and understand things you struggle with. In close relationships we get to ask anything we want to, so make use of that opportunity! Sometimes it may be enough simply to inform someone that you struggle with this out of sight out of mind thing. Other times you may want to know if it's ok with them if you ask for reassurance once in awhile. Anything you want to say or ask is allowed- anyone who truly cares about you will want to assist and to help you be more comfortable.
4. Check in with someone a little while after you've left their physical presence- after you leave the movie you may want to call the other person after an interval of time- could be 5 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, the next day, whatever. The amount of time doesn't matter. The important thing is that you get to be reminded that the relationship still exists.
5. reinforce your "findings" by writing, drawing them, sculpting them in soapstone... however you can record them so you don't forget the experience you've had that shows you your connections don't disappear if you aren't watching them all the time. I suggest recording them in some concrete way (instead of only committing them to memory) because when we get anxious we tend to forget things (or when we're really nervous we even have a way of accidentally denying what we know to be true)- if something is written it's harder to forget its veracity.
6. create periodic check-ins- if you aren't going to see someone for a certain period of time and are worried about the out of sight out of mind thing, check in with that person periodically to reassure yourself. Depending on the type of relationship and what the person knows, you can either check in explicitly by saying "hey I was just worried about the out of sight out of mind deal" or implicitly by saying you just called to say hello. Again, whatever works for you is what you should do.
7. make list of "evidence"- compile an "evidence list" of successful experiences you have (as they happen) and maybe carry that list around for while as you gain confidence in the enduring quality of your relationships. a little notebook that can go in a purse or backpack, or the "note" feature of your cell phone, are easy ways to do this.
I sort of thought lists were supposed to be short. Hmm. Apparently this one isn't. But hopefully it's useful.