There is so much destruction all around and honestly, we are powerless to change these very complex things. We can, however, change a life. As Leo Buscaglia noted, too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

I remember a line in the movie Riding In Cars With Boys, Drew Barrymore who plays the role of teenage mother Beverly Donofrio, at one time confesses that the less confident she felt, the more makeup she had to wear, hoping it would keep people from finding out how hollow she felt inside.

All around us we are surrounded by people with carefully practiced smiles pasted on their faces or an air of eternal busyness all meant to keep the world far from their real selves. The truth is we are all desperately in need of someone to break through our barrier and into our hearts. There is something magical about noticing and being noticed by another human being. It does not matter how big or small the problem an individual is going through we all need to feel heard and understood. We all long to hear the words ‘I know you are trying, I understand I see you. I see your fear, shame, terror and I am not judging you. I want to embrace you and listen to everything you need to say.’ First they relieve the person of the burden of isolation and secondly they give them hope and strength to press on.

You see most battles are lost or won in our minds, so telling someone that you understand them reminds them that the darkness they are feeling is not unique to them that  there are an infinite amount of people who have walked the same path and come out on the other side. That there is a pattern to this darkness, and that means that the light will is also inevitably ultimately come.

When I was younger, I went through a phase where I always felt overwhelmed by emotion. And then I discovered poetry. I started pouring out my emotions in shockingly vast amounts of cringe-worthy verse that I eventually pushed on my poor sister. I am not sure how much of it she read, but she told me she had read and encouraged me to continue writing. Every month I would dutifully deliver pages and pages of bad poetry if I must add. This exercise gave the release I needed and made it through those turbulent times and I have never forgotten that kindness. Now that I am older I always try as much as I can to be that person who gives an encouraging or a hopeful word to people around me.

Do you have a memory of how someone’s understanding saved your life?  This is your chance to pay them back by passing on that gift to another soul in need.