When I was a teenager I worked for a small department store a few hours per week. I made plenty of mistakes. My supervisor at the time was fairly strict about the procedures and I often felt stressed when I was working with her on my shift since I did often make a lot of mistakes. I tried humor and a friendly smile, but she did not laugh.
When it was time to leave for college, I thanked my supervisor for her time with me and gave her a tin of homemade cookies. My supervisor cried and hugged me. She told me that no one was ever nice to her. I later learned just by listening that her husband had died and she had undergone a very difficult year. After that event my perspective of this woman was changed. I went back to visit her on school breaks to say hello and made an effort to speak to her before leaving the store. She met me with a friendly smile, a warm hug, and well-wishes.
As a counselor, I love teaching others about mindfulness, the benefits of not judging ourselves and others. I talk about the practice of having compassion for others, even when it’s hard, and to be kinder to themselves during times of challenge or self-doubt. One of DBT’s distraction strategies is called Contributing.
By contributing to someone else, we mindfully focus on the need of another person. By offering help, volunteering, doing a good deed, or providing a service for someone else, it takes our minds off ourselves and contributes to the wellbeing of someone else. In this way, we learn to be generous, thoughtful, grateful, helpful and develop empathy for others. Contributing offers a chance to reconnect and provides a sense of achievement. You can find more about this strategy here.
On February 17th, Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated. This is a great time to think about doing something for someone else. It doesn’t have to be big. Perhaps a letter, text, phone call, or card might cheer someone up. You never know what kind of impact a small gesture of kindness can have on a person’s life.
For additional words and acts of kindness see Random Acts of Kindness | Kindness Ideas.
If you are struggling to contribute to someone else and would like to learn more about connecting with others in your life, contact me at SHCS.