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Archive for July, 2012

the pain won’t last

My grandnieces and I were coloring pictures when suddenly Lucy (3)  let out a wail. She had put the top back on one of her markers and it caught her skin, pinching her. You know how painful that is! Her eyes instantly welled up with alligator tears and her expression relayed the pain she was feeling.

Her mom, my niece Tabitha, lovingly said to Lucy “this kind of pain doesn’t last very long”. Sure enough, within another minute or so, Lucy settled back down to coloring and laughing and being silly with the rest of us. Life went on. Those words didn’t instantly stop the pain in Lucy’s finger.  But they did help her, even as a 3-year old, put it in perspective and shift her attention back to coloring and enjoying the fun time we were all having.

That image really stuck with me. Sometimes life figuratively pinches us. Something unexpected happens that hurts. REALLY hurts. For a moment in time, all our attention is focused on that one part of our lives that hurts and we might even want to wail in pain! (That’s totally understandable. After all, it hurts!)

There is something reassuring and comforting about the reminder that the pain won’t last forever. It might feel like it will, but it won’t.  Just like the body is amazing in its ability to heal physically, human beings are amazingly resilient in our ability to heal emotionally.  Knowing that there is probably going to be an end to the pain can help us get through it.

The pain won’t last.

You can go back to coloring pictures again.

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It seems like people really don’t like to say these three little words. “I was wrong.”  Or four words.  “I made a mistake.”

But why? Where did we get the idea that we are supposed to be right all the time?  Or to know everything? Or to have answers for every question?  We’re all human. Imperfectly human. Nobody is perfect. Nobody gets it right all the time. Nobody knows everything. Nobody has all the answers.

Say it out loud.  “I was wrong.”  or  “I don’t know.”  or “I made a mistake”.

It’s okay.  Really.

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I did that!

In a recent blog post I mentioned a dancer named “Turf” who is competing on a show called America’s Got Talent. Turf was inspiring with the way he showed support and encouraged his most serious competitor.  The show is at the next phase of competition and I just saw Turf before he went out to perform.

Tonight I’m live in front of the whole world and I’m only one person on the stage. If they like me, I can look in the mirror and say “I did that”.  If they don’t like me, I gotta look in the mirror and say “I did that”.

I am so impressed with the way this kid (ahem…young man) totally takes responsibility.  He wasn’t about to blame anything on the audience or the judges or Americans who are voting for their favorite acts. He took ownership of it. That impressed me and I just had to share it.

Win or lose…”I did that”.

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Sometimes helping isn’t so helpful.

I want to help. When someone is going through a rough time, I want to do/say something that will make a difference. But there are times when that’s not what the other person wants or needs. Sometimes hearing a different perspective – hearing my viewpoint on their issue isn’t what they are looking for and that kind of “help” just  isn’t helpful (and is possibly just annoying).

Like the signs at the railroad tracks, sometimes I just need to Stop, Look, and Listen. STOP what I’m doing for a minute, LOOK at the person and LISTEN to what they are saying.  Sometimes all a person needs  is to be seen and heard. You can generally tell from the context of what they’re saying if they are looking for help or just need to vent. They might be like the train coming down the railroad tracks. All you need to do is wait it out as they thunder past and then when the coast is clear, continue on your way. You’ve done all you can for now.

That’s really hard for me because it can seem so…well, unhelpful. But then again, I know when I’m on the other end of it, sometimes that’s exactly what I need, too. I know people care and I know that if I asked for help, they’d be there for me but for that moment all I need is to be seen, heard, and “allowed” to be where I am.  So I want to offer the same to others and not always jump in there with a solution or suggestion or a different perspective.

Stop, Look, and Listen and then keep driving.  Sometimes it really is the most caring and helpful response.

 

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