Have you ever really stopped to consider your impact on other people?
Maybe those young, impressionable faces in your lives, who look up to you as a role model, and who will be silently taking on board the way you live your life; the way you approach a challenge; the way you celebrate; the way you manage disappointment.
Maybe those older, wiser ones, who have had a hand in your Now You, through their inspiration, and who watch with interest (and perhaps a wry smile) as you go at life full pelt (or not), observing the ways you cherry pick the approaches which seem right to you, and do your best to ignore the snippets of their advice which seem encumbering or inconvenient.
Maybe your peers, who look sideways at you from lowered lids, to see whether you’re doing the same kinds of things they are; whether you’re still on the same page, or whether you’ve veered off in another direction, and whether that direction seems safe or foolish.
Maybe strangers who’ve felt your intervention somehow, and had their minute, or their hour, or their day, or their whole life, altered by your presence and your actions in the situation you shared.
It’s quite a responsibility, isn’t it?
I found myself challenged this week when I read a post by Renee about what your label might be, and I began thinking about the people who for whatever reason have some regard for me, and the ways in which I likely have, am, and will let them down – the ways in which my impact has been, is, and will be negative. And maybe that’s where part of my challenge lies – in that I perpetually allow myself to focus on the negatives.
By focusing on the positives, I’m not going to change the world – I know that – but I have the potential to alter my own perception and develop a more rounded view of myself. Perhaps if I understood (or was able to accept) more of the positive ways I have an impact on others, I might even find myself acceptable, and THAT would be huge.
Question is, do I dare? Do you? I’ll break us in gently…
Maintaining good connections
To be able to make and keep friends is a novelty I hope never wears off. In addition to having family members as friends in their own right (now I’m old enough to appreciate that dynamic), I have so, SO many wonderful, supportive, encouraging, delightful friends, and I am just thrilled to pieces about that. keeping in contact and maintaining those friendships is something which boosts me and makes me thankful every day, because without them, life would be so, SO much the poorer. Definite shout-outs to WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype and In Real here…
Working as part of a team
I’m a good team player. Truly. I suck at being the boss of things, and I’m often quite hopeless alone. I’m far, far better doing as I’m told and supporting a larger whole. The added bonuses include things like ‘not having to be the one to whom the buck is continually passed’ and ‘being able to call a sympathetic colleague and whinge when the day literally turns to shit’ (don’t ask – I do NOT want to re-live it).
Striving for better
“Together we’re stronger” is a popular motto (thanks Sisterwives) but nonetheless true for being widely touted. Trying to improve either my output or my character without reference to other people is as effective as winking in the dark, and I’m thankful that I have strong connections with wonderful people who are interested and invested in me becoming the best me I can. If you find that in anyone, don’t give them up, because to have people in your corner, rooting for you and cheering you on, is FABULOUS.
Taking opportunities to act with compassion
Compassion is one of those feelings, which I think could heal the world, if we all listened to it and acted upon it when it strikes. We (I) spend so much time tangled up and over-thinking,or looking to our (my) own life, with too little regard for others, that we miss opportunities when we could act with compassion, and in those moments, make HUGE differences to those who need it. I’m thankful that there are occasions where I’ve done this, and done it successfully. I’m also glad that when I feel as though I’m screwing it up, I have friends around me to help me regain some perspective, and see things differently.
Finding Silver Linings
Something I’m SO glad I’m good (or if not good, then practiced) at. Beginning with these lists of thankfulness, which have featured as key elements in my life on a couple of occasions – it’s just GOOD to try to see the good things in life. I’m certain they always exist in some capacity or another, and really trying to focus on them not only provides a distraction from whatever’s going wrong or is less desirable, but it forces you (me) to acknowledge that there ARE good things, which are worth celebrating. It’s a skill which can come across as a bit sanctimonious at times, but I know from experience (not just my own) that it does help, and so where possible, encouraging people to look for things which make them thankful, is a constructive way of supporting them when things are challenging for them.
Making positive changes
I’ve never been one to dwell in the past, and until very recently (like, say, most of September) there wasn’t a single day I’d like to go back and revisit. Now there’s a month’s worth. Or nearly a month. Or somewhere in the region of 22 days, which may or may not get me laughed at by people who can convert start and end dates to numbers of days without resorting to counting on fingers. Suffice it to say, I WANT to revisit those days, and am determined to reinvent them in future, instead, by changing things and chasing after the wonder which was waking up every day, connected and close with a group of people. I don’t know if that’s something everyone gets, or something I’m just particularly lucky to have found, but I want it again. I SO want it again. And I’m HUGELY and forever thankful to Dana for the suggestion which sparked…well…a complete life-change (if I can wrangle it (with unbelievably HUGE amounts of help from others)).
Using what’s available
Waste bothers me, and always has. We live in a throw-away world, and when I got back to England, I was really thankful that there had been a 5p levy introduced on all plastic bags from shops. I fully support the ‘reduce, reuse. recycle’ motto for life, and though there are times when I fail, and fall under the thrall of wanton consumerism, I do at least have enough global conscience to feel bad about it. Having seen some of the conditions endured by the people who work on landfill sites trying to make a living from other peoples’ waste, it pains me to contribute, and I’m always glad when I don’t have to. I’m thankful to have access to car boot sales (and a friend who’ll come with me) to help turn my tat into other peoples’ treasure, and raise some funds at the same time.
I’m thankful I’m able to write in a way which (according to feedback) is quite readable and on occasions powerful, and sometimes makes people respond quite viscerally. I kind of love that (and if you’re someone who’s once been affected by something I wrote, and you told me, THANK YOU, because it’s boosted my confidence and made me far braver at writing) but I know that again, I’m not likely to improve without input (and lots of practice). I’m determined to somehow (or at least in part) write my way back to Murica, and I’m so so thankful for the generous people who have thus far offered their input and proof-reading and constructive criticism on some of the pieces I’m hoping to submit.
I’ve learned the hard way that it’s important to say “thank you” when people say nice things about you, or about something you’ve done. If (‘when’, in my case) you don’t, then you run the risk of undermining their viewpoint, which is usually not a very kind thing to do, and almost certainly one which will give them pause before they bother trying to go out of their way to be nice to you again. I’ve struggled all my life with compliments, because on no level do I feel I deserve ANY, for anything. I’m thankful that I’ve (finally) come to a place where I recognise that offering a compliment is sometimes as much something for the giver as the receive. Acknowledging someone’s subjective opinion (when it’d kind and not creepy), and accepting their kindness gracefully is a thing I am glad I can now do (at least some of the time) because it validates other people’s goodness towards you, which is just a nice thing to do.
Something I LOVE to do is nurture others. It’s something I think I’m alright at, and it delights me to see people flourish and hope that I maybe had a part to play in that. Everyone gets down or needs a bit of a boost sometimes, and I really enjoy being someone who can offer that (well, when I’m able to). Whether it’s a cup of tea, a back massage, practical help, or just being a caring, listening ear who can bounce ideas around, I really value that I’m able to contribute meaningfully within friendships, and I’m thankful that I have friends who trust me and appreciate my input, and I delight in being able to demonstrate how much I love and cherish them.
And on reflection, it seems as though mostly all of the above somehow, some way, comes back to love. So there’s THAT, too.