I heard a ping tonight and a message of support came through on my phone. A friend had thought I seemed sad today and she had decided to contact me, just to see if I was ok. I can’t tell you how touched I was. That reaching out…the touch of human kindness. It matters and it makes you feel as though you matter. I wasn’t sad, but she didn’t know that. She had gone with her instinct and thought that it was better to reach out than to let it go. She made me feel loved.
In the school I work in we are focusing on support and emotional health at the moment. I have asked everyone to think about their support networks – who they can talk to, who can talk to them. Its such an important part of all our lives. And its not just about being able to give concrete ideas to help someone. Support often means just being there – a smile, a message, a comforting touch.
You Are Not Alone
So many of us feel alone, don’t we? Whether that’s because we have suffered bereavement, or our children have left home….or maybe we can’t explain why…..there are times when we feel isolated. I remember when my children were little, sometimes the only adult I had contact with, during the day, was the check out lady at Tesco. She could make such a difference to me if she smiled and asked me about my day. Its such a simple thing to do and seems so unimportant, but, for me, that smile, those few words, were the difference that made the difference.
We never really know what is going on in someone else’s life. Its easy to think we know and often we can judge someone as being a certain way with no real proof or knowledge. In reality people are often hiding hurt and loneliness. Who knows what is really going on behind a person’s facade? That’s why its so important to reach out and connect with those around us. It does no harm to smile and say hello. It can make a world of difference to someone if you actually ask them how they are and then really listen. Kindness goes a long way.
The Friendship Net
If my friend tonight hadn’t messaged me I would have been alright. But she didn’t know that and her kindness moved her to contact me and make sure I was ok. Her awareness of my normal mood helped her to wonder about how I was feeling. By creating a network of friendship, of care, we can stop each other from falling through the gaps. Awareness of each other, our good days, bad days, indifferent days, can create a knowledge of what is normal. When someone starts to behave in a way that’s not normal we can spot it and offer help.
Behaving in a way that is caring narrows the gaps between us all. You don’t have to be an extrovert or a bosom buddy to smile and say good morning. You don’t even have to know someone to give a smile, to wish someone a good day. Taking the time to notice another person’s existence can make the difference between that person feeling like nothing, or feeling that they are noticed, that they have a place in the world.
How Can You Support Others?
Am I teaching you to suck eggs here?! Maybe you do all these things already? Maybe you smile and chat and listen every day? But do you? And who is your support network? By giving to others you create a network of people who appreciate you. I remember reading about a woman who was locked in a freezer at work accidentally. She thought that she was going to die as it was Friday evening and everyone was going home for the weekend. And yet she didn’t die because the security man on the back door came to find her. It was her habit to smile and wish him goodnight each day as she left. He missed her support that night and knew that something was wrong. He found her and saved her.
Its worth thinking about how you behave. Do you catch people’s eye? Do you smile and say hello? Do you notice when someone is not them self? Its easy to become wrapped up in our own problems, but a simple act of kindness can give you such joy and can give untold joy to others. Don’t wait for others to act – say hello. Smile. Ask how someone is and, most importantly, listen when they tell you. We all have bad days, but we are not alone. We have such power – the power to make others feel loved and worthwhile. Why would we keep that power locked up?
So, your homework….. your homework is to smile. See how many bonds you can make with the people around you even if, particularly if, they seem grumpy and uninterested. A smile can be like the sun thawing a frosty path. It can show us the way.
If you are affected by this blog post and feel I could help you or someone you know, please contact me via my website at firstname.lastname@example.org You are not alone.