It’s not about you

Over the last few months, I’ve passed along several ‘I’m here for you if you want to talk’ messages to acquaintances and friends. I’d see something on Facebook that showed me they were struggling; maybe a less than cheery status update or an article they posted. Sometimes while chatting via Zoom, I’d sense sadness or worry they weren’t fully revealing something.

The majority of people I’ve extended myself to have thanked me for my kindness but haven’t actually taken me up on the offer. At times, this has been hard. I’m a healer after all. It’s a part of my life’s work to help people move forward from their hurt. And I’m a results-oriented person. I like success I can instantly measure like cracking a joke and making someone smile or giving someone advice and seeing their shoulders instantly sink into relaxation.

A few times, I’ve let my unanswered invites get the best of me, “What’s wrong with you Danielle? Have you lost your healer’s touch?”

Fortunately, the TrueMe is good about reminding my ego me that the way others choose to heal has absolutely nothing to do with me. I can offer to lend an ear. I can give advice. I can share stories of inspiration and hope. I can give tools and resources. But that’s all I can and all I should do. What someone decides to take and when (or not) doesn’t say anything about my abilities as a friend, as a coach, as a healer.

A bottle of water on my nightstand reminded me this. I know, this sounds really random but stay with me here. It’s a great story (in my humble opinion) and I think it will resonate:

Every night, I make sure I have a bottle of water near my bed. Normal enough, right? But, it’s rare that I actually take a sip of that water. Yet just its presence serves a purpose. Knowing I have that water bottle near makes me feel safe and prepared if I ever do get thirsty.

My silly ritual helped me to remember that sometimes, somewhere in the world, we’re making a big difference in someone’s life even if they don’t respond back to our offers of help: just like the water bottle. Even if I don’t drink it, it still provides a sense of calm before I rest. I believe that’s what I’ve done for those acquaintances and friends I’ve offered to connect with: I’ve been that bottle of water on their nightstand, I’ve helped them to feel safe. They know I’m there if they ever need me.

If you’ve been trying to give help to someone, but you’re not seeing results the way your mind thinks you should, remind yourself it’s not about you (I say this with love). Then picture that bottle of water on my nightstand.

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to remind you that your heart-centered actions always have worth, ‘I trust when I act from the heart, others feel it in theirs.

PPS – A little bit of gratitude goes a long way, for yourself and for others. Remember, your actions always matter. Let’s do yourself and your community a favor. Grab some sticky notes (If you don’t have those, grab a sheet of paper and tear it into smaller sizes, just big enough to write a short message.) On the sticky notes, write down short messages of gratitude – messages that can bring you and others a moment of joy in their day. Examples: “You are loved”, “You are worthy”, and “Give yourself a hug; you’re doing great”. If you’re out and about today, place those sticky notes where others can see them. At home with nowhere to go? Place those on your bathroom mirror, or anywhere you know you’ll look at least once a day. You deserve this. And so do others. 

Check on your strong friends

My son Aaron, a freshman in high school, said to me casually one night a couple months ago, “I’m not doing too good in my AP class. I’m at a ‘C’.”

Even though he had never received a ‘C’ in his life, I didn’t flinch; I didn’t get curious. In fact, I didn’t think too much about it. This is his first year in high school, plus he’s taking an AP class. He’s busy with sports. We’re in a pandemic. He’ll be fine, he’s strong.

I responded, “Okay. No problem Big Guy. I know you’ll get your grade up.” I smiled, patted him on the back and walked out of the room.

A month later after the holidays, Aaron came to me and my husband Ron. His voice shaky, his face red, it was immediately apparent that he was distressed.

“I got a ‘D’ in that class… I don’t know what’s wrong with me… I’m not myself. I’m struggling with mental health stuff… I wanted to tell you, but…”

Ron and I were shocked.

Looking back on the night Aaron mentioned the ‘C’, I made an unfair assumption that Aaron was fine, believing he’d figure it out and thinking everything would be okay because ‘It was Aaron. He’s strong.’ 

Here’s a list of things I could have done better in that moment (which I’ll use to make positive change in the future):

Be present: Although Aaron came to me with a cool tone, if I were more in the moment, perhaps I would have picked up on the real message: he needed help. Maybe I would have noticed his energy was off. Maybe I would have noticed him looking down to the floor.  Maybe I would have heard a crack in his voice.

Probe: I took Aaron’s words at place value. I didn’t ask how the ‘C’ made him feel. I didn’t ask why his grade was low. Was it trouble with vocabulary? Not enough time to study at night? Not turning in assignments? If I had been more curious, perhaps one of those questions would have sparked a deeper conversation.

Be more involved: Ron and I had the opportunity to attend an open house at Aaron’s school, but we didn’t. We reasoned, “It’s not needed. Aaron always does well.” Ron and I have access to Aaron’s school grades; we never checked them, “Aaron always gets good grades.” If Ron and I were more active in Aaron’s studies, we may have seen the signs of Aaron’s struggles earlier.

Although I missed signs, I never got down on myself when I realized I could have done better and I never lost sight that Aaron could have done more on his part. As my Dad used to say, ‘It takes two to tango.’ What I did do is turn this into a learning opportunity and a way to get closer to my son. 

What I hope you take away from this story is that, especially in these difficult times, take time to check on your ‘strong friends’ (or kids). Those in your life who you perceive as having it all figured out, those in your life who are usually the ones taking care of others, those in your life who are usually crushing it at school, work and life… They may need you.

I also hope you walk away with this: You’re human. You’re not going to be that ‘perfect’ parent or that ‘perfect’ friend or colleague. You’re going to miss some signs and some moments, and that’s okay.

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Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation if you’re struggling with mental health: “I will come through this challenge with a better understanding of myself. I deserve help and feel confident asking for it.” Here’s an affirmation for those who have missed signs from loved ones: “I did the best I could yesterday and today.

PPS – Are there people in your life who always seem strong and put together, but perhaps there’s more happening underneath the surface? Let’s focus on pinpointing signs of help or distress in others. Here’s a journal prompt: Jot down the names of a few of these seemingly strong people. Then, consider the last time you interacted with each of them and consider the list above in my blog post. Were you present and invested in the conversation? Were you genuinely curious about how they were and did you probe/ask questions? How would you describe your involvement in their lives in the past couple months? Based on these reflections, what can you do now to show them you are there if they need you?