Recently, I wrote about listening as a form of healing. I talked about how important it is to simply listen, and not try to respond, reply, or problem solve. Today I wanted to write about thoughtfulness. Initially, I was going to call this “responding,” but that wouldn’t be what it is exactly.
The more I have taken time to get to know those who have chosen to have me listen to them, the better I understand what means a lot to them, the more I have learned what makes them smile, what they hope for, and what kind of encouragement they need to hear.
In response to that, I have tried—although I am sure I have also often overlooked—to be thoughtful. Social media makes it so easy to send someone a message, to send them a photo you know they will like, or a quote you know will help motivate them. And how much skin off our backs is it, really? It’s so easy to press that ‘Forward’ arrow and type “Reminded me of you. Have a happy day.”
Taking the time to send someone a short message or to ask them how they are doing, and not as a formality, but really mean to ask them how they are doing, can be another form of healing. Speaking from personal experience, there are many times when we feel so very alone and we feel like no one will understand. There are many times when we don’t know how to reach out, and we don’t have the courage to start speaking.
Now what if someone reached out and asked? What if you knew they were asking because they really wanted to know, and they want to know because they want to hear you? It’s simple. It doesn’t take a lot, but it gives a lot.
Thoughtfulness already comes naturally to all of us. Practicing it is what may take a bit of getting used to. How many times have you seen something, been reminded of someone and just ignored it? How many times have you wondered how someone was doing, and chose not to ask? It’s not that you’re trying to be mean, but you are—as we all are—busy. So we let the thoughts go and we hope we’ll be able to catch up with that someone sometime soon.
Unfortunately, that is counterproductive. The more we get used to not reaching out, the less we will, and the less likely will we find that time to catch up, to strengthen connections.
As Olivia Thirlby beautifully wrote, “Communication is the kind of thread by which a relationship will live or die or hang or break.” Let’s practice it then. Like learning to be happy, let’s learn thoughtfulness and communication. I will personally set a goal of reaching out to one person once a week, someone I have not spoken to in a while or whom I am reminded of because of something I’ve recently seen. I know that at some point once a week will become twice a week, become three times, become habit. I want to cultivate beautiful relationships with the many beautiful people in my life and in the fringes of my life, and I think it will start with choosing thoughtfulness and communication.