Monday, January 21, 2008

Let People Know

Several recent experiences have impressed upon me the importance of letting people in our lives know how we feel about them and what they mean to us. Life is short and I think one of the saddest things that can happen is for people to die without knowing that they mattered and meant something to others.

We often feel awkward when we contemplate telling people how much they mean to us or how they have impacted our lives. I’m not sure why we have this self consciousness. It is normal to affect each other in life. Often we have no idea what our presence, words and actions mean to those around us.

I wrote an entry a while back about Lucy, my neighbor when I was growing up. She is over 100 years old so I knew that she wouldn’t see the blog entry. My mom took it upon herself to print out the blog and send it to Lucy. In my own defense, I have written letters to Lucy in the past letting her know how much she means to me and how she positively influenced my childhood and life path. I guess when it came to the blog, I felt I’d already said what needed to be said to Lucy. My mom thought otherwise and mailed her the blog.

Lucy was delighted and shared the article with her daughters and grandchildren. I’ve heard from some of them how much they enjoyed reading the article and how much it meant to Lucy.

My mom spoke to Lucy on the phone shortly after she received the article. She was quite tickled and said to my mom something like, “You know, you go through life and just do what you do and you really have no idea how important it really is!” Exactly! I’m so happy that my mom took the initiative to give this message to Lucy again. I don’t believe we can overdo expressing our appreciation for those who have touched our lives and influenced our destiny.

My mother had her own experience of this recently. She spent a great many years as a primary school teacher. Over the years various students have come back as adults and let her know of the positive and profound impact that she’s had on their lives. Each time a student shows up it helps my mother know that her teaching really did matter, that she greatly affected the lives of her students. Recently, a former student tracked her down via me and my website. It blew my mother away to be reconnected with this student and hear about the ways that she had really helped this student through a challenging time in her childhood. I was grateful to the student for letting me know this directly. In our dark hours of doubt, it is always wonderful to be able to remember those who have let us know we mattered to them.
I too have had people remind me of things I’ve said or done, in the past that have influenced and helped them. It’s always a blessing. I go through times of doubt where I wonder if my counseling has really helped anyone. Usually it is about that time that someone emerges with a phone call or a note that thanks for me for how I’ve played a role in some positive changes that they have experienced in their life.

I am setting a goal to let at least one person a month know how much I appreciate them and how they have positively contributed to and enhanced my life. Can you imagine the revolution we would start if everyone did this? Why not try it? Pick one person from your life, past or present, and let them know just how much they mean to you.

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