Recently, while spending a few days away with friends, I had the chance to play a game called RETHINK. The outside of the box says, RETHINK card deck; Mindful Conversation Starters; 56 questions to encourage compassion, shift perspective and build connection. Sounds like a pretty good game for anyone to be playing in this day and age. We have a wider separation in beliefs and convictions, seemingly less ability to have tolerance and patience, a lack of respect, and a more desperate need to be listened to and cared for. Anxiety, depression, and insecurity are rampant while the need for trained professionals to give council and treat is at an epidemic high.
I think this question and possible answers could be key in helping to lower stress, anxiety, depression, insecurity, anger and self-doubt.
Some of us have a gift of compassion and caring. I have friends who seem to show up at just the right time and offer just the right act needed to encourage someone. They make it seem so effortless and easy. Others of us struggle with what to say or what to “do”, getting bogged down and unable to “do” at all. Caring doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate. When we can get past that thought, it will be easier to care.
Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates – all are people just like us who have times when a word or act of compassion could change the whole course of a thought or a day. Caring comes in many forms. A smile in someone’s direction, a note dropped in the mail, a greeting, or just a cheerful question like, “how are you today?”, might be just the action needed to make that person feel acknowledged, important, and not so empty or desperate.
Awareness of others is key to thoughtful caring. If you normally see your neighbor with the same routine day after day, then notice you are not seeing your neighbor and the routine is off, a call, note or knock at the door to check in on your neighbor is a great way to care.
It is easy to smile at someone sitting alone on a bench or walking alone on the sidewalk.
One never knows what might just have happened or what problems have befallen that person. A simple greeting or smile might lighten their heart and even put a smile on their face.
Early last Monday morning I had to visit my medical lab and I greeted the lab technician by saying, “Good morning. How are you today?” She looked at me with sad eyes and said, “Good morning. I’m really not doing very well today.” I then asked if she was suffering from allergies. She said no, that she had been diagnosed with cancer the previous Friday. Wow! I said to her I was so sorry and asked her if I could give her a hug. She gladly accepted. In the short time we were together she told me that she hadn’t told anyone accept her family. She told me what kind it was and what she thought might be ahead. I listened and asked a few questions, which allowed her more opportunity to talk.
When we were done with my blood draw, I asked her if I could pray with her. Afterwards she asked if she could hug again.
I was so thankful for that encounter and an opportunity to offer encouragement to this person whose world had changed course over the weekend. I know she was grateful too.
I met a sweet sales lady at a little boutique recently. We exchanged greetings and found that I lived in the same neighborhood as her mother, in fact, I knew who her mother was, but hadn’t taken the time yet to get to know her.
This morning I stopped to say hello and let my neighbor know I had met her daughter.
She, too, is lovely like her daughter and really quite lonely, as she has been widowed for many years. I will invite her over for iced tea and a visit this week, something I will enjoy and I hope she will too. A simple act of caring will enrich my life I’m most certain.
About thirty years ago a dear friend of mine struggled with cancer. She was a great teacher helping me to understand how best to care for her and her family. She loved working in her yard yet keeping up with the yard and house with two school-aged children at home while going through treatment, was just too much. I offered to garden and mow for her but that was something that gave her joy. What was more helpful for this particular friend, was taking some meals, in disposable (and this is VERY important) containers for the freezer. If she didn’t feel like cooking, she could pull something out with little effort and enjoy a meal with her family. Another friend might love being able to cook because that is their passion, but the housekeeping or yard are the tasks that are looming large and help in those areas would be appreciated.
It’s okay to ask someone who is going through an illness or a loss or some other kind of struggle, if you could help.
It is helpful to offer a few ways you are comfortable with rather than just saying, “Please do call me if you need anything or if I can help in any way.”
If someone you know is in the hospital and they are able to have visitors, a quick stop to let them know you care is great. This doesn’t have to be time consuming and is really better kept short, yet it says to that person you cared enough about them to come by. Sometimes the one hospitalized is unable to have visitors but they have a family member sitting nearby around the clock.
You might consider just stopping in to see if you could grab a coffee, or to give a word of encouragement or to pray with the one just waiting.
A good friend of mine was great about offering to sit with me during my husband’s surgery. It was so helpful to me to have company while waiting for the news from the doctor. I felt loved and cared for.
Experience is a great teacher. I’ve mentioned before that I was fairly young when my parents died. I remember being overwhelmed by the goodness and caring of others during those times.
There were people who came to both of the funeral services who had never met my dad or my mom, yet they came because they cared about me.
I’ve heard people say, “I haven’t called yet, I just don’t know what to say.” I would say to you that listening is the most important act of caring. It is good to say, “I’m so sorry”, or “I don’t know what to say”, or “I care”, but connecting with a person during the time of a loss or heart ache or depression or any number of other things, and “being” with them affords them the opportunity to share their feelings.
When you actively listen, you will be caring in a most compassionate way allowing for processing of feelings, understanding and even healing.
There are so many ways to show compassion and care for those in your life.
So back to RETHINK and that great question: What could “I “do to make this a more caring world? ~Anne
Anne Miller is TableThink’s columnist for Your Tribe. Anne’s writing takes us home, reminding us of what really matters. She invites you to the TableThink tribe . . . and to know it’s . . . Your Tribe.
Anne invites us: “I hope you will feel inspired to connect, reconnect, or get to know someone in your community, realizing it is not about entertaining – holding the attention of – it is about “being” together, sharing life and relationship.”