Relationships are shaped by thoughts. Words, yes. Actions, yes. But, before anything else come thoughts. Maybe a barrage. Could be, at first, a trickle, but no matter their frequency, how we treat people in our thoughts is just as important, if not more, as to how we treat them in real life. When we’re with someone in real life, the energy we’ve built for them in our thoughts, while away, always surrounds them completely and, in your mind, you’re always preparing that energy, which will be expended later. YES, from a distance, we interact with people in a way that effects how we treat them in person.
This is the concept behind The Places We Build. Thinking of others is a very powerful force upon how relationships in our life will either take shape, or flounder. Mentally, building a place for someone means the thought construct with which you think of that person, specifically. The “thought home” we’ve woven for someone becomes, essentially, how they, to us, exist. Beautiful or ugly. Big or small. Prisoner, or free. These are the places we build. Consider for a moment what types of thought homes may be conducive or destructive to the progress of humanity:
In your thoughts of others, build for them expansive places. Like the mountain sky in the morning before the clouds roll over on top of one another and the horizon is filled with the possibility of afternoon moisture. Give inclement emotions space and time. This is a wild developing world, not a constrictive decided maze. People in our life need a vast swath of mental landscape with which to roam as they chose. Resist the urge to be a ticking time bomb in someone’s life, but become to them a hopeful reassurance that, no matter what, things will never come crashing down for them. Spacious and roomy. Relationships are living and breathing things. Mental maps, instead of leading up and out with infinite possibilities, can become constraints which lead nowhere. Having expansive relationships means no one is trapped in a certain place, indefinitely. Everything that makes a person unique, belongs. Mentally, we honor idiosyncrasies and, instead of warding them away, we invite them to stay with us and get comfortable. Expanding places, expanding relationships.
In your thoughts of others, build for them fluid places. Like the pathway of water careening down a dry mountain creek bed. We sense a turn left, but, naturally, water may head right. We let a person become what they’re meant to become, regardless of our mental restrictions placed upon them. People aren’t in a category, they’re on a personal pathway to their destiny. The choices they make in their life are more important than the choices we think they should have made. In relationships, restrictions form by believing we know what’s best for others and there will always be an uncomfortable loss of control when we build a thought home of fluidity for others. There are many directions a person’s life may take and we are supports, not guides. We watch as their life unfolds with delight in our voice and joy in our eyes, never mentally building damns in an attempt to channel their future. Let’s run and fetch new materials. Another room may need to be added to this thought home. Someone is growing here. Someone is changing. How exciting. They’ll grow in a way we aren’t expecting and that’s OK. Where you grow is more powerful than my expectations. Fluid places, fluid relationships.
In your thoughts of others, build for them hospitable places. Like an open screen door just begging to be pulled open by its springs and slapped closed. A light on inside. Unobstructed walkways. An environment conducive with exchanging pleasantries and openness. Differences, not seen as hindrances so much as they are opportunities to display honor and curiosity. A kind of thinking of others that isn’t based on fear or resentment, but exploration. Come, sit, I am interested in your life. The time of day is never a burden and my welcoming isn’t so much a mat, but a pervasive attitude. There’s room for you in my life, please approach and be warmed by my presence. With me, the cold is driven away, the fire is always on, and our friendship isn’t merited by meeting expectations. It’s forgiving here, not callous. There’s no competition calling you to a certain standard. You’re accepted. Hospitable places, hospitable relationships.
The place I build for you is constructed of all the thoughts I have of you when we’re together, but also when away. How I think of you when you’re away is the place you go to stay in my mind and our relationships grow from these foundations. When you enter my physical presence, you enter the place I’ve built for you and, as we speak, you’re always in my mind the same way you were when we were away. Your inner monologue of me, when we are together, I can hear and vice versa. Everything you say of me from a distance, in a way, always comes true.
A gentle sloping plain, leading out toward the horizon. A place to see, hear, breathe, and be still beneath the expanse of the mountain sky. Build a place for me here, and I you, and friendship will flourish when we know that we deserve each other’s best. This place you build for me will be a source of much strength. A reservoir of refreshing emotional nourishment that I may draw from each time we meet to discuss the varieties of life.
Begin by constructing it now. Your future friends will thank you.
Tear down old places in your thought world where you’ve been erroneously keeping acquaintances and build new ones. It may be time to see the glaring inadequacy of your thoughts for others and begin replacing the ugliness for the beauty with which they deserve. All the while remembering the most often neglected portion of humanity, that being: if we are to progress together, then we must love more when we’re apart than when we’re together.