One more truly wonderful piece by blog reader Sylvia Montesinos. I highly recommend that you take a journey through her thought-provoking blog (see previous posts “Getting Over” Having the “Perfect Life” and Your Heart Can Learn to Sing Again).
Peace by Peace-Connecting
By Sylvia Montesinos
Posted on her blog http://livingheartandsoul.com
When I was a teenager I remember watching perplexed as my grandfather made his way through the grocery store. He would talk to the produce man, the unsuspecting shopper, the cashier, the bag boy, and anyone else he might happen to run into. Not only would he acknowledge them, he would often end up having a conversation with them. Sometimes he would be laughing with them and really appearing to be making a true connection with each individual as he made his way through the market. In my own adolescent view of the world, I would think, “Why does he have to talk to everyone?”
The art of connecting with others sometimes feels all but a lost art as we make our way through a busy, sometimes hectic and technology-filled world. It seems like our bodies and minds are totally engaged in any number of things including texting and facebooking, rarely stopping to look at what is really all around us. This frenzied existence can deprive us of one of the things human beings long for the most, the feeling of connection with others.
Just a brief moment, perhaps only eye contact, maybe a few words with another human being, can have a lasting impact, on them, on you, or perhaps for both of you.
During my time in training as a psychiatric resident, one of the most valuable lessons I learned from one of my mentors was the value of feeling heard and seen. I remember discussing with him a particularly challenging situation with one patient whom I felt there was nothing I could do for in spite of my numerous attempts to help. As I expressed my sense of frustration and uselessness to him, he retorted, “Well, you are already giving them one of the most valuable and healing things you could give any human, a place to feel seen and heard.” That simple sentence completely shifted my perspective and my approach with patients and with healing. Yes, I would still take a thorough history and do a full medical evaluation and yes, I would still prescribe medications when appropriate. However, once I had given a patient all of this, I realized that the thing they would remember the most is having felt seen and heard by me.
And when it is all said and done, these connections are what have kept many people who are going through a depression or some other difficult time, alive.
On a more personal note, I recall a particularly difficult period in my life where I remember someone reaching out to me. While I was paying for something at the store, engrossed in my own thoughts, a cashier struck up a conversation with me and reminded me that during hard times we just need to “keep on swimming”. Although seemingly insignificant to her, this very brief conversation has stayed with me to this very day.
Just a brief moment, perhaps only eye contact, maybe a few words with another human being, can have a lasting impact, on them, on you, or perhaps for both of you. When I have worked with patients who are having suicidal thoughts, I always ask them what is keeping them from killing themselves. The most common answer I hear by far is their connection to a loved one, family, a friend, or a pet. No one ever says, their career, their money, their house, or their hobbies. It is about their connections. And when it is all said and done, these connections are what have kept many people who are going through a depression or some other difficult time, alive.
So as we go through our day, getting things done, how often do we really connect with another human being? How often do we just pause, perhaps look in someone else’s eyes for a second? I am talking about real eye contact here. I am talking about pausing long enough to catch a glimpse into that person’s soul and in turn allowing them to see a little of ours. How often do we truly listen to what someone else has to say? Or do we just go on with our busyness, getting things done that by the day’s end we have all but forgotten? As I stop to ponder this, the thought of my grandfather who passed on about five years ago, comes to mind. He understood the value of human connection both with family and with strangers. The ripples of his actions live even now, in me, and hopefully beyond. Our connection to each other, our being seen and heard, our being able to see and hear others, that is all that really matters in the end.