Building Relationships- One 140 Characters at a Time

My newest “meandering” has done it’s job well and distracted me from my current three part series on Feelings from a Thinker’s Perspective. I’ll get back to it… soon.

Twitter used to boggle my brain. It seemed like a weak extension of Facebook. Why in the world would I want to constantly be updating my status with things people didn’t care about? Especially when I could already do that on Facebook? I opened an account to see what the hoopla was. I didn’t get it.

Then I began a job as a Social Media Community Manager. I read the book “The Twitter Job Search Guide” by Susan Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan, and Deb Dib. I obviously wasn’t looking for a job, but the book was so influential on my understanding the purpose and strategy of Twitter. I am pursuing a career as a writer. I began to take their ideas and apply it toward my goal of publishing. (The writing style of the book follows the example of Twitter: succinct and to the point.) Read it.

I dove in to the Twitter world and started having a blast. I realized that Twitter is much more than just posting status updates that no one wants to read. Instead, it opens up a HUGE door of access to people and ideas that I normally don’t have access to. In my case, this means Literary Agents, Editors, Publishers, and other really great and successful authors. With a little bit of strategy, I’ve been able to seek them out and “follow” them, in essence, getting into their heads. I love understanding what their workloads are like (their tiresome dedication astounds me!), remembering that they are “real-life” people behind the mailing address, and joining in their successes and failures. This gives me so much insight in improving my own writing skill, knowing what’s being sought, and getting my name visible and familiar in the very close-knit writing world.

Very cool.

However, the more I’ve played with this fun “new” toy of mine, the more I’ve been challenged with the 140 character count for tweets. Not because I have more to say. I want depth. I want more than surface-level-tweet-based acquaintanceships. I want relationship.

It struck me that while I am able to follow people who are generally out of reach for me… unless they follow me in return, they will likely never see a word I say (unless I reply to their tweets). However, I have come across random moments when I have an opportunity to be heard by one of these folks.

My one shot. To be heard. In 140 characters or less.

The difference between myself and many others is my purpose in being heard. It’s not to be a kiss-up or flatterer. It’s not to be “cool” because so-n-so read my comment and responded. My sole genuine purpose in being heard? To encourage. (Familiarizing my name and networking has become a side-perk ). Seriously. This may sound strange. But my deepest desire, after spending so much time in their heads (via tweet), is to encourage them. I’ve heard their discouragement. I’ve seen the things they value and prize. I can imagine with great empathy the struggles of being so well-known or famous. Real people living real life… very publicly. I long to reach in and touch those places with love and a healing word.

So how can I encourage someone in 140 characters and not appear like every other “fan” simply trying to get an “in”?

I’ve come to the conclusion that relationship is the key to this kind of being heard. Okay.

So how do I build a relationship with 140 characters or less?

I found one great site in my search for what seemed impossible: Twitter Relationship Building in 140 Characters by Kay Hebbourn. She says

“On Twitter, it is about asking questions, trying to ascertain the context, checking out links, responding to messages, and perhaps inviting people to speak using other platforms where you can use unlimited characters… If you are keen to hang on to your followers, it might be that you will want to communicate with them instead of running a show and tell campaign.”

That is one of my favorite things about Twitter. It’s really all about THEM. To “succeed” (having a strong follower-base) you must be others-minded. If you simply use it to promote yourself… you’ll lose ‘em. People want to follow people who help others: people who offer great tips, read and respond to other’s blogs, thank them for re-tweeting or following. Kindness is key. A selfish tweep will be a solo tweep.

So how to build that relationship. How to use your one shot (possibly) at encouraging an out-of-reach person and not sound like every other fanatic? (This is not to say that I’m the only non-fanatic following out-of-reach people- only that we seem to be a minority). I don’t have it figured out. This is my journey. So far, I’m simply following the people I want to, offering them encouragement when I can (even if they never see it because they have 200,000 followers and mine get’s lost in the mess of “will you marry me?s and “I love you!”s). Congratulating success, offering words of hope for those who are struggling, inspiring courage for the despairing, and being grateful for every kind word that I receive in return. Perhaps, if this remains my focus, then one of those 140-character tweets will reach the heart of someone I normally have no access to (or perhaps even those I do!) and my goal will be achieved…

To live the serendipitous moments of God’s divine intentions as He pours out His love and encouragement on His creation… one 140-count tweet at a time!

Other related sites that I found on the topic of relationship-building and character count:

(You can find me on Twitter: @marcypusey)


The Value of Pain (Feelings From a Thinker’s Perspective Part 2)

(Read Part 1 here.)

I’ve been thinking about my last post and how it relates to my purpose of providing inspiration and encouragement to my readers.

It’s always good to hear how another person views a particular subject… especially if it’s different from your own. I know I personally love to have conversations filled with depth and rationale and understanding one another. My purpose for righting about feelings from a “Thinker” perspective was to give voice to the many of us who can only be validated in our feelings by having someone understand how concretely we view them. On the flip side, we Thinkers have to be keenly aware of weight feelings carry for our “Feeler” friends and how unnecessary an explanation is. 🙂 I know that I have personally (and unintentionally) wounded friends by being so rational and logical about feelings instead of just accepting them regardless. Equally, I’ve been hurt by people wanting to talk about my feelings with no consideration of how I wound up with them!

May we each strive to love and accept the differences among ourselves- to cherish them in such a way that we are willing to learn the other “language” for the sake of friendship and the kinship of our humanity.

Speaking of hurt, I wanted to process some thoughts I’ve had regarding pain.

A friend was sharing in my Bible Study the other day and said something to the effects of “Pain is only valuable if God is allowed to use it for His and our own good.” Now, even if you don’t believe in God, I’m sure that as you read along, you will still be able to appreciate the way that pain can drive us toward betterment if we allow it.

Let’s consider the Flu. Or any cold. Unpleasant. Uncomfortable. Normally doesn’t kill you. The flu is actually a sort of a natural cleanse. It cleans your body of all of the nasties that have built up, albeit through some orifices you’d have rather left alone. Not only does the flu clean out your system, but it sends your immunity to bootcamp. An untrained immunity will be a weak enemy for real battle (i.e. much larger diseases and illnesses). Your body’s response to the flu virus is also a way of altering you to a foreign adversary is on the premise and works to rid your land of it. So, you can choose to see sickness as a horrible attack on your system or see it as an opportunity for you body to strengthen, prepare, and clean, though uncomfortably.

How true this is of emotional pain too! Feelings of hurt or anger or sadness are all indicators that something is not well within us. A red-flag that danger to our psyche is at bay. It would be easy to simply wallow in those feelings believing that they in and of themselves are the end-all/be-all. But really, feelings and emotions are so often just a reflection of the true issue at hand.

My husband, a person like so many who is very familiar with pain, reminded me of a quote: “Pain is the acid that cuts through the walls of denial.” Pain can get to parts of us that no one else can. It can speak to us on levels that nothing else can reach. The acid could destroy us if we didn’t know how to use it.

So how do we use pain? If you believe in God… this is a little easier. You trust His Word which says that His plans for you are to work all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). To give His creations a hope and a future and not to harm them (Jeremiah 29:11). To trust that God is allowing pain in order to “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” It’s in our pain, when we are desperate to end our suffering, that we are finally willing to listen, to be changed. It’s not God’s mean way of making us something different than we are. Instead, it is God’s kind way of directing us away from those things that would harm and destroy us and ushering into a land filled with choice milk and honey. The way a Shepherd gently guides the sheep along the path… allowing them pain if it will teach them to stay the course and flee from cliffs, wolves, and thorns. This God, in His great love for us, allows us to trip, get poked, and encounter “the wild beasts” of the field to teach us the hard lessons that only experience can teach us.

If you don’t believe in a God who loves you, protects you, and ushers you, then your path looks a little different. It becomes a task greater than trusting God…but of trusting in yourself. In your ability to step outside of the pain and see it objectively- as the tool that it is. As we are imperfect and completely unable to be completely objective of our own life journeys, this is a daunting task. You must reframe your pain and choose to use it as something that improves you. Instead of swearing off all men because one man deeply hurt you… decide to learn the lesson of heartache and promise to be as honest and genuine with others as you can be to spare them what you have felt. Or challenge yourself to experience the satisfaction of being the “better” person and continue to “love” that person with kindness, patience, forgiveness, and peace. They, too, are learning on the curves of life and, unfortunately, you were an instrument in their own growth as well. See it as such and don’t let pain destroy you. Rather, let it build you. Better yet, choose to believe that there is a God who loves you and wants the best for you- and follow Him.

This concludes part 2 of how a Thinker views Feelings… in light of pain. I hope that whatever your life experience, today you can choose to look at the pain you’ve experienced and see how it has made you something better than you were… more mature, more kind, more compassionate or understanding. Perhaps you’ve let it tear you down a little…and make you cold or hard or distant from those who love you. My hope and prayer is that you will be able to find it within you to look at how you’ve let pain influence your life… and choose to use it for the better… and not the worse.

Blessings in your endeavors!


Feelings from a Thinker’s Perspective: Part 1

“Feelings are just feelings.” I’m sure you’ve heard it.

Feelings are just feelings.

Many agree with that statement. I, however, do not. Maybe it’s because I’m a Thinker 🙂 A Deep Thinker, even, according to the RightPath4 Assessment. I’m also a Thinker according to the Keirsey Temperament Assessment. Of course, I could have told them that.

Or maybe I disagree because I’m a Behavior Analyst at heart. Or maybe that’s why I’m a Behavior Analyst at heart.

See? Too much thinking.

Are feelings just feelings? It’s very cliche. Right? We’ve all heard it. We just want our feelings to be validated, even if they don’t make sense (hey, me too!).

I believe, though, that all feelings have a cause. Cause and effect. Something happens and a feeling follows. We may not undersand the feeling, be able to control the feeling, or even recognize where the feeling came from… but it came from somewhere.

Feelings can come from past experiences creating a sort of conditioned response to a trigger. For example, if every single time I went to Disneyland I smelled popcorn and that made me happy… then it would be natural for me to think of Disneyland and feel happy every time I smell popcorn. I’m trying to use a positive example with this scenario but many situations of this nature have had negative tolls as well… a smell can trigger a painful memory or poke at a deep wound. In fact, it’s often these negative emotions that seem to attach themselves to our experiences.

Feelings can also come from chemical reactions in our brain. Without enough of the happy hormones (Seratonin, Endorphins, and Dopamine) our brains can alter the function of brain behavior… leading a person to feelings of lethargy, sadness, emptiness, and so much more. Depending on the extent of the imbalance, a person can actually become unable to function in every day tasks, so overwhelmed by feelings. With medical attention, this imbalance can be treated and help restore a person to the more common of human experiences, without the additional brain-chemical challenge.

Feelings can also come from thoughts and actions. If I allow my thoughts to take their own course, I will wind up feeling something. This, fortunately, is something I can control. I can filter my thoughts. I can restrain them. I can guess where they are headed and stop them. I can even change my thoughts.

I don’t believe that feelings are just feelings. I believe that’s a fatalistic approach to handling ourselves. In that phrase I hear, “I don’t have to control my thoughts or actions… I just am what I feel- and feelings are just feelings and I can let them take their course; I’m powerless to them.” But I don’t think we are powerless to our feelings. Even a chemically imbalanced brain can receive some aid in restoring balance. I believe that our feelings need to be held accountable and tightly reigned.

For example (this is fictitious): I’m feeling really sad. I don’t understand why. I’m just down. I don’t see any perceivable cause for my feeling. Later, someone mentions my mom. That sadness pops up again. I realize that it’s the same time of year that she passed away, though it’s been a number of years now. I connect that earlier feeling of sadness with this new realization. Does it make the sadness go away? No, but now I have a source and can find some ways to help walk through my sadness with some direction. I can pull out an album and spend time remembering- grabbing hold of that sadness until it washes me clean. I can write her a letter in my journal. I can call up my sister and reminisce. I can act on my feeling, bringing it some resolution. I can channel it in a healthy way. It hasn’t just popped up for the sake of making me sad. It has a purpose- a place within me that needs some attention.

Feelings can be warning flags, like a sting on the bottom of our foot. A way of letting us know that something needs our attention. Because they are the effect, we must take a look at the cause. Knowing the cause can even help us change our feelings.

There. I said it. Feelings can be changed. I know that’s a very unconventional thought. It’s not new, though.

Feelings can be changed.

I can be angry at my husband for not doing the dishes. I can build it up in my mind too. I can decide that he’s lazy. That he must not really love me. That he’s selfish and rude. I can get become quite furious with this run-on of thoughts. But when I find out that the dishes weren’t done because he received a call from a friend who was in a crisis and rushed off to help our friend- my feeling changes. I’m not mad at his selfishness or rudeness. I don’t even question his love for me. Understanding the cause can change the effect. How often our feelings get the best of us over a misunderstood cause!

Or maybe he really was just being lazy and didn’t do them so he could watch a show. I can choose a number of ways to feel about this. Uh oh. I did it again. I said you can choose your feelings. Well, I think sometimes you can. I can choose to think he hates me because he picked a show over the dishes (which is the easiest route to take) and feel furious. Or I can consider that he works a full time job, is finishing his full-time Masters, and has four children… and just needs a break. So would I. I can feel some compassion and understanding. Very different feelings, same cause.

This, of course, is not a call to invalidate someone’s feelings. Feelings are very real and very strong. But YOU are stronger. There is a way through them that can make you a better person on the other side.

At least that’s what I think 🙂

Well, I’ve meandered quite awhile and think this has become the first of a three part series 🙂 The next part will focus on the value of pain and how we can use it to grow and better ourselves (instead of let it fester and wilt us). Stay tuned!  Oh, and please feel free to respond (nicely). 🙂 I have many thoughts, as you can see, but love to hear other opinions, consider them, and maybe even change my own accordingly! 🙂