“These are [indeed] the times that try [our] souls.” (A. Lincoln) Political, social, cultural, medical and other events are creating anxiety, stress, tension, frustration, sadness, and a host of other emotions in young, old, and all in between. How do we fortify ourselves and others in these critical and “trying” moments?
I have no magic wand (to quote a long-time mentor) which will make the current turmoils go away. But I can serve to offer a gentle reminder or two of the tools we already possess. We all have the ability to respond to these circumstances in a way that is supportive. Remember the E+R=O session from the retreat? We can always choose how we respond to outside stressors. We can take a walk, listen to or play music, text or do video chats with friends, hang out with pets, use newly found free time to be wonderfully creative in an infinite number of ways. AND we can/MUST remind ourselves that we deserve the same level of kindness that we show our friends and peers.
The current challenges are new and can be polarizing. This presents yet another obstacle. But as LifeSavers, we know that we have the tools to handle these circumstances, too. We’ve trained for these moments. We’ve recognized in our sessions and discussions that sometimes we are capable of putting aside our personal beliefs and listening to those who need an ear. Sometimes we feel so strongly that we might not be the best person to listen to someone who is struggling. In those moments we celebrate our self-awareness and find someone who might share ideologies with our friend to be that caring, compassionate ear he/she needs in the moment. We make this choice knowing that we’ve done the best we can for our friend because we’ve made sure he/she is being heard.
In the moments that come, remember why you chose LifeSavers. Remember the training you’ve received. Remember to ask for help as you need to. Remember to check on your friends. Remember that you are loved and valued more than you probably know. And remember the words of Sophocles, “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” Thank you for loving yourself and others.
Only With Love (O.W.L.)
Kelley R. Gardiner, Executive Director, LSTC