My kids are pretty much half naked all the time. They sleep in their underwear, their shirts come off as soon as they walk in the door, and I have countless funny videos and photos on my phone that I can’t post due to indecent exposure.
To them, being naked is the most comfortable way to live. When my youngest son started school I was seriously concerned that he was going to start stripping off his clothes whenever he had to use the bathroom and I would end up with some embarrassing phone calls from his teacher.
Thankfully, this love for nakedness only occurs in our home. Our home is where our kids feel safe, accepted, and loved unconditionally. Our home is where they can let their guard down and be their true selves. Our home is the place they feel comfortable enough to get naked.
I love that my kids feel this way, and I want my friends to feel like that too. Obviously, I do not want all of my friends to start showing up at my house in their skivvies. What I do want is to create a safe haven where my friends can feel accepted, loved, and comfortable enough to get emotionally naked. And of course, I want to feel that from them too. When friends can be truly open, real, and honest with each other, their relationships deepen, strengthen, and become more satisfying.
So, How Can You Get Naked?
1. Invite People Over to Your House with Little or No Notice
I still remember the day my husband announced that one of his coworkers was going to stop by in about 10 minutes with his family, like it was no big deal. I had a baby and a 3-year-old, was wearing sweats, had a sink full of dishes and an empty fridge, and hadn’t mopped the floor in weeks, not to mention cleaned the toilets.
Once my murderous rage subsided, I quickly came to the conclusion that there was no way I could clean my house in 10 minutes. I was just going to have to be ok with it. I did manage to put on actual clothes and throw some toys into a laundry basket so no one would impale themselves on a hot wheels car, but that was it.
And you know what? Nothing bad happened. No one stared at my sink in dismay. No one made snide comments about the crumbs on my floor. Instead, we all had a pleasant time enjoying conversation and watching our kids play.
When people feel welcomed into your home they feel welcomed into your life, and they welcome you into theirs as well. Invite people in as often as you can. Throw together a meal with whatever you have in your pantry, order take out, make a pot of coffee or open a bottle of wine, and welcome people in with open arms. Throw away pretense. Be more concerned about them and their life than about the condition of your home. Allow them to see your real, actual life, and they will allow you to see theirs. If you wait to invite people into your home until everything is perfect, you will miss out on the best parts of life.
2. Don’t Apologize for Less Than Perfect
If you did suggestion #1 and invited people over at the last minute, any apologizing you do completely negates it. Do not make excuses for your messy paper piles or your mountains of unfolded laundry. Fight the urge to say you’re sorry about the crumbs on your floor. Don’t even think about commenting on the unsightly state of your hair or wardrobe choice.
When you apologize for your home or yourself being less than perfect, that assumes those things should always be perfect. Then the friend who walked into your mess will not feel any better about her own, because you are clearly saying that perfection is still the only acceptable state. The whole point of getting naked is to be real and vulnerable, and to allow your friends to love you there.
3. Ask For and Accept Help
About a year ago I had surgery and I needed help just to get a glass of water. I hated it! What is it about asking for help that is so hard? I think it’s because we as women believe that we need to be able to take care of everything on our own. When we can’t, it seems like we are admitting failure. Like we are less of a mom or wife or friend just because we need help. This is not true! The best way to fight against this lie is to get naked and actually ask for help. And when we ask our friends for help, they are more likely to ask us for help as well.
For the same reason women are also less likely to accept help when offered. How many of you have had a sweet and intuitive friend offer to cook you dinner, watch your kids, or pick up groceries, and you have shrugged her off insisting that you are fine. Well, you may very well be fine. But that does not mean that you couldn’t benefit from a little extra help. When we accept help, we are admitting that we can’t do it all. Guess what – no one else can either.
4. Talk Less, Listen More
The only way people are going to get naked around you is if they know that you will give love and encouragement, not advice and judgment. When a friend comes to you with heartbreaking news, admits a failure, or shares a struggle, the best thing you can do is listen. Hug her, cry with her, ask her how you can help, and then just listen. Unless she asks for it, she does not need your opinion on the matter. She does not need you to tell her how you would handle her situation or what she should do next. When a friend comes to you sad or hurting, fully exposed, what she truly desires is for you to love her in and through her mess.
5. Become Your Friends’ Biggest Fan
It is so easy to fall into the trap of the scarcity mentality. When you are knee deep in the muck and mire of life, it is really hard to look up and be genuinely happy for the success of those around you. That twinge of jealousy sneaks in and robs you of the opportunity to share in others’ joy. And even if you hide it well, your friends can tell. In the same way they want to feel loved and accepted in their mess, they want to feel loved and accepted in their triumph.
Some days it is easy to cheer on your friends. And on the days when it’s not, start small and rely on these simple habits. Start liking your friends’ Facebook posts. Give heart eyes to their Instagram photos. When you think of a friend during the day, send a quick text of encouragement. Remember events coming up and send good luck messages. Ask how a project went or if a difficult coworker has been easier to handle. Check in on someone when their kids are sick. As you begin to invest the time to love and encourage your friends, you will become part of their success.
6. Keep the Golden Rule Golden
We all know it. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
It’s so simple that we teach it to our kids, yet it really does hold the key to great relationships. If you want to have friendships that are real, open, and honest, then you need to be real, open, and honest. If you want to feel loved and accepted even in your imperfections, then you need to love and accept others in theirs.
So go ahead, take a deep breath, and get naked.