I have long been a problem solver. My time spent working for Apple retail further solidified this for me. It also taught me about human connection. People would appear at the store before we opened, longing for answers. Many days they would find me standing just outside the closed doors as the opening concierge.
I would begin a conversation by asking questions to discover how I might help. My questions were purposeful, and their answers would empower me with the information needed to address their concern. And while I was there to resolve their problem, the motivation behind the interaction was much more profound. Through the power of connection, the goal was to repair a broken relationship between the company and the customer.
Often customers approaching the store before it opened were expecting a confrontation. Little did they know, I was there to advocate on their behalf. Besides this, I also greeted customers who had private training or tech support appointments. Regardless, as concierge, my role was dedicated to building and restoring customer relationships.
More often than not, customers who were once angry when approaching the store returned later to thank me for an exceptional experience. As they exited, they realized I was there to help them. I did it not only because it was my job but because I genuinely care about each customer’s experience. Through connection, exceptional experiences were commonplace because of the mindset instilled in every employee.
Anytime someone is vulnerable about their struggle with anxiety, we must prioritize connection. To do this, we strive to be present, see the person, listen intently, and encourage them. Reading those words, it’s easy to nod our heads in agreement, but living this out is tough. Prioritizing connection requires love, restraint, and intentionality.
Ingredients For Connection
- Be present
- See people
- Listen intently
- Encourage them
Connection Is Key
As much as we desire for God to heal someone, there is no quick fix for mental illness. Our role as friends or family members is to show empathy and love without condition. By doing so, we create a sense of trust and safety. An environment of safety opens up the opportunity for connection and, ultimately, healing.
Feeling Less Alone
Human connection is what we all desire. When individuals with anxiety feel connected, loneliness decreases. Their problems are not gone, but now they have someone to fight with them. The overwhelming now seems less impossible.
Prioritizing connection with someone living with anxiety requires a great deal of unconditional love. It is one of the most selfless, Christlike acts I can imagine. It often requires more love than we possess. It can be both terrifying and exhausting.
The reality of loving someone with anxiety can be overwhelming. There is no guarantee the person will ever be able to return the favor. It requires great sacrifice regularly. Often the person living with anxiety is hard to love. It usually requires more love than we possess.
It may frequently leave you with more questions than answers. While I won’t candy-coat what it takes to love someone with anxiety, I will point you to a few verses in the Bible that encourage me.
“We love each other because he loved us first.”
1 John 4:19 NLT
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 NLT
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
We are not here to fix anyone. We might believe we have the solution, but treating mental illness is much more complex than having all the answers. Likewise, it is easy to fall into a “fix-it” mentality working in computer hardware. The danger here is turning what could be a transformational experience into a transactional one.
The Result Of A “Fix-it” Mentality
A “fix-it” mentality turns people into a number and lowers the chance for human connection. Instead of feeling like the other person is here for them, people can feel like a burden. The person receiving assistance loses trust and can become frustrated, tired, put-off, or angry.
Embodying the mindset of a concierge took a lot of training and intentionality. I practiced over and over before pieces started to fall into place. I believe the same is true for anyone seeking to love someone living with anxiety. It takes time to solidify the right motivation and the practical aspects of connection.
In this article, I emphasized the importance of connection. In future posts, I will discuss the critical ingredients for connection. I will illustrate what it looks like to be present, see people, listen intently, and encourage others. Remember, all of this is driven by love and the desire to see healing for a friend or family member.