Someone I admire and love often makes me cringe by being the person who never shies away from talking to people about their troubles.
Did your barn burn down? They will ask you about it at the next 4-H banquet, when everyone else is trying to ignore that sore subject.
Lose a loved one? They will march over to your house with a basket of chicken, and probably attend the funeral, when others are giving the family space.
You or a family member in a socially awkward situation (divorce, pregnancy, drugs, etc.)? They will ask about it when they see you in town, when others are trying to pretend they don't know.
You might think (I certainly have) that this person is going to step in it sometime. That their outreach will be perceived as nosiness, or that they will get shut down by the person they approach.
But that's not what happens.
People want an outlet to share. Going through tough times can be lonely, and feeling that someone cares is a wonderful release. The support network of immediate family is always important, but they are often going through their own feelings.
Sharing your story, your feelings, your frustrations with someone--even someone who by most counts isn't in your top people to confide in--is freeing.
This idea of reaching out jumped into my mind today, and so as someone who is usually in the they don't want to talk about this with ME camp, I decided to test it for myself.
I sent a message to someone I don't know intimately who I knew was going through a tough time. I didn't ask questions, just offered supportive words. And they responded immediately and enthusiastically, offering up some details on their situation.
This made me think of some missed opportunities. Times where I could have (should have) simply reached out, and not assumed someone facing a difficult time was already being helped, or was unwilling to talk about it.
I also had to think about my feelings on receiving outreach. I consider myself pretty private, a circle-the-wagons kind of individual. But in reality, when I have faced tough times (loss of my father, career challenges), it has helped to have people to talk to. And if I am honest, talking to someone who wasn't in my inner circle, who brought a fresh perspective and a little distance from the trauma, it was helpful.
So I challenge you to think about the people you know, and those you barely know who might need a kind word and a caring ear. And reach out.
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