We need each other now, as always. We need our community. We need our connections. We need to know that we are not alone in this. So, let me, in the midst of my own exhaustion, do this one thing. If you’re feeling hopeless, angry, anxious, depressed, etc. because of the state of the world, or the state of your job, the losses you’ve suffered, the issues you are fighting for, the struggle to hang on to hope, you are not alone. I am with you. I see you. I share your exhaustion, frustration, anger, and your need for rest. Whether we’ve talked about this personally, or if you’re simply holding this all in and trying to keep it together, I see you. I’m with you. We are together in this, and we should share the little bits of hope with each other. They may be hard to see, but the more of us who are dedicated to looking for them, and sharing them, the more of it we’ll draw strength from.
The people who helped me, and continue to help me, are the ones who will ask me questions and then just listen. They want to hear my story, even though they can’t fix it. They know that they can help by just giving me a space to tell my story, without worrying about the need to fight off their attempts at fixing something that may or may not be relevant at all to my situation. (i.e. I’m glad your cousin felt better after a walk in the forest, but that’s not what is happening here!)
So please, just listen. Make the space around you, even if it’s virtual, a safe space for your friends and loved ones to tell their stories. Find small ways to help, if you can, but also know that by just listening, just sitting with our stories, you are already helping so much.
This is really my biggest problem. Sometimes, sadness, grief, anger, and uncertainty are entirely appropriate, so why are we telling people to ignore those emotions?
Look at it this way, when we watched George Floyd’s death on video, we all felt something, and it probably wasn’t all that pleasant. Or, when we read the overwhelming number of deaths from COVID, we felt something. Maybe we all didn’t feel exactly the same thing, but we all felt something, and maybe most of all we felt a need to do something about it. If we had simply flipped the page and focused on what we are grateful for, we weren’t changing anything, we aren’t doing the things we need to do to keep ourselves safe and well. We are just ignoring it.
I’ve talked often about the small things we can do for each other, that may make a much bigger difference than we know. Things like texting a friend, checking in on them, simply sitting with them when they’re struggling etc. I’ve talked about how these small acts keep people connected, let them know that they are not alone, and allow us to get outside of our own anxiety about everything going on in the world, and take control of one small thing we can do to make a positive difference.
Well, as we start of 2021, here’s something you can do that would help not only me, but potential people in your social circles who are feeling alone right now.
Would you share this website with them?
Recently, a friend on Facebook decided to ask us all to share one thing that happened this year that was a positive, to try and collect any and all good news in one place. It was a good idea, and as I thought about how I would respond to something like that, I thought of some of the good things that have happened this year. I’ve had some pretty nice successes at work. I’ve connected on a deeper level with my wife, and managed to stay connected to a close group of friends and family. Those were good things, but at the end of it all, I kept coming back to something I talked about at the end of 2019 on the Find Your Voice Podcast, and then again on this very blog on January 1 of 2020.
“I’m Still Here”
What occurred to me as I thought more about this study, was that both of these are easily fixable. Giving and receiving compliments would not be such an anxiety-inducing activity if we simply practiced it more often. It’s the fact that we so rarely give people compliments that makes this awkward, and when the kind words of a friend, or even a stranger, can have such an important impact on our days, and our own struggles with self-worth, this is hardly a thing that should be so rare.
So, here’s my challenge, for myself, and for you. The next time someone does a really good job on a project, is especially good at their job, or just looks sharp in a new outfit, tell them. Even if you don’t know them very well. It will matter to them, and you’ll get to practice something that will make you a better, happier, person as well.