Most people have a unique gift of being able to feel if someone is emotionally unwell. Sometimes, we’ll have a conversation with a friend or colleague and something will seem off. We’ll ask if everything is okay, but even if they say that they’re fine, their non-verbal cues seem to say otherwise; maybe the very opposite of “fine.” The polite thing to do is respect their words and believe them, since there is not much we can do at this point. But perhaps they have a personal reason for doing this; maybe they’re just trying to hold it together and get through the day. Maybe unpacking emotional troubles would destabilize or paralyze their emotional state. In that moment, we can give them a gift that they can choose to accept — a gift that they can take home to help unpack the emotional luggage they’ve been carrying around for so long: the gift of kindness. I’ve learned that I cannot show someone how to fix their problems, but I can give them space and positivity — they themselves are the ones best equipped to handle their problems; all they need is a clear head, love and time to change the story they’ve been telling themselves.
[Today’s podcast was about generosity. You can check it out here]
In college, one of my colleagues was notorious for forgetting his pencil. It was very clear in the way he dressed, his mismatching socks, and disheveled hair that his goal was to do the bare minimum in class to get participation. And usually he would ask me for pencils, since he knew I kept an ungodly amount of pens and pencils in my backpack.
I think it’s interesting to note our respective attitudes in this scenario regarding pencils. If I really just wanted to be prepared, I would keep only a few extra pencils. Not twenty. But in past experiences, I’d personally been in embarrassing situations where no one was willing to give me a pencil. So, out of this fear, I kept many pens and pencils.
So he would ask, and I would give. But I started to notice that when my pencil stash would run low, I was more hesitant to give him a pencil. In fact, sometimes I would lie that I didn’t have an extra, so that my own anxiety could be quelled. Needless to say, neither of us were happy in this situation.
I had developed a relationship with my irrational fear of pencils, and my colleague developed an unspoken trust with me of providing. The more pencils I had, the more comfortable I was with giving him a pencil. But as that stash dwindled, so did our weird relationship. Basically, the less I had, the less willing I was to give him a pencil.
Eventually, he moved to another part of the class where he continued his cycle of “pen-handling.” I thought I was being generous, but in reality I felt bad for him. We aren’t able to freely give if we think we don’t have enough.
You know at least one person in your own life who has shied away from donating because they say they don’t have enough. They usually say things like, “Once I become rich, then I’ll have extra money to donate!” But riches come from an abundant mindset. Let me ask you this: how will you ever become rich, if you operate from a poor and lacking mindset?