Let’s take a look at a powerful component of humanity. One that I don’t think we talk about enough: the idea of being a guardian, and allowing others to be a guardian for us.
What is a guardian?
- a defender, protector, or keeper.
A story to illustrate:
It was a typical Sunday morning. My friend Stephanie* (*names changed for privacy) was at church, sipping coffee, waiting for some of her girlfriends to show up. She thought of a specific friend, Anna*, and couldn’t get her out of her mind for some reason.
Stephanie decided to do something uncharacteristic: she picked up the phone to call Anna and check on her to say hello and ask her if she was coming to church. Anna answered in her typical chipper tone, “Oh…yes! I’ll be there!” Stephanie would later come to learn that the cheery tone was an act.
You see, a few days later, Anna confided in Stephanie that at the very moment she got her phone call, Anna was contemplating suicide, and closer to doing it than ever before. Her dark thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the telephone.
Stephanie was flabbergasted. And delighted that her innocent, unknowing gesture had been so impactful.
That, my friends, is guardianship in action–taking the time to check in on friends when they cross your mind. You never know when someone is suffering silently, fighting battles you know nothing about.
Sometimes you know, but many times you don’t. That’s why guardianship is so vital in today’s fragmented world. My friend acted as a guardian almost accidentally, but I suggest doing it deliberately would be even better.
Each of us benefits immensely from having a handful of people looking after us, and from deciding to do that for others, too.
Who are the guardians looking after you?
Who are you looking after?
As we enter the holiday season, this is a different spin on imparting “the Christmas spirit” to others. A lot of energy is spent on giving to charity and helping those in need during the holidays–and that is fabulous. I’m not suggesting we should stop doing that.
I do suggest that with the increasing chaos, darkness and uncertainty of life in the 2020s, paying more attention to those we know can only help.
With that in mind, here are a few ideas of how we can be a guardian to others, as well as accept the caring guardianship of someone else.
How to be a guardian to someone else
- Encourage. Let the people in your life know you are there for them and believe in them. Offer them your support and encouragement, especially when they are going through tough times.
- Offer guidance and advice. When people come to you for advice, be honest and straightforward. Share your knowledge and experience with them. Help them to make good choices.
- Be a role model. Strive to live a life that showcases your values. Set a good example and show your friends how to set a high bar for themselves.
- Be a friend and confidante. Be someone that those close to you can trust and confide in. Be there for them to listen and offer support, even when it isn’t convenient.
Can you identify 3-5 people that you can be a guardian for?
How to accept guardianship
- Be honest about your feelings and needs. It’s easy to suppress negative feelings out of fear or discomfort in expressing them. If you have a guardian, practice trying to be honest. A true friend will support you as you air your thoughts.
- Reach out when you need help. Guardians are happy to offer guidance and advice. Sometimes, it can be difficult to ask, but it’s worth it. Guardians often have more life experience than we do, and they can help us to make good choices and avoid bad ones.
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. If we can get past the hump of opening up, guardians help us to grow as an individual. They challenge us to reach our full potential if we let them help us.
- Accept their love and care. Guardians create a safe and loving environment for us. They make us feel like we belong and that we are valued. It is a wonderful feeling.
What’s a time that someone made you feel cared for?
In the spirit of celebrating those who are guardians, I named my latest product the GUARDIAN belt bag. It fits snugly around your waist or shoulder, like the warmth and comfort of knowing that someone is looking out for you and cares deeply about how you are doing.
It can be as simple as sending a text or commenting on a social media post to show love and encouragement. I’d be delighted to hear about how someone has supported you, or vice versa. Drop a comment or send me an email!
To loving others well,