For those of us who have been through difficulties, whether it was one traumatic event, a series of traumatic events or years of fear and uncertainty, there comes a deeper recognition of the struggles of those around us. They may not be very good at hiding the pain or they may have most everyone fooled, but how many times have you looked a person in the eye and recognized a depth of emotion lingering just below the surface? How many times have you been met by a smiling face and empty eyes? How often do you notice and say nothing?
Regardless of whether or not you have been through trauma, pay attention. You are surrounded by hurting people, some people display this with bursts of anger, some with quiet withdrawal and some with inappropriate humor. But the hurt is there. Look around you and when you see hurt take just that moment to offer a kind word, a smile of encouragement or ask a question that will allow even a little distraction. How often do you wish someone would offer that same kindness when you are hurting? It doesn’t take much but it truly can change the direction of that person’s day and maybe more than that.
Lately I have had a series of conversations where concern has been expressed that I am being taken advantage of or being used. I don’t know how to explain that the things I do are intentional choices, I am not being manipulated it is a choice to be nice because I don’t want to treat people the way I have been treated. When I give a compliment it is a genuine comment of encouragement because nobody deserves to feel unworthy. I help and do things for others so they won’t feel left behind or too overwhelmed. Sharing and giving are not a burden, I have been blessed with more than I need and nobody should feel unfortunate. I listen because in times of pain and frustration nobody should feel they are alone. I give advice because not knowing what to do is a helpless feeling and nobody should feel helpless. I encourage because everyone needs to have hopes and dreams and nobody should feel like they can’t achieve those dreams.
I do all these things for all the right reasons and I remain quiet about myself because nobody should be plagued by the awful things in my head.