Acknowledgement Is A Gift We Can Give Every Day

It may seem small, but it goes a long way

Light in glass container
Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

The faces of the women around me mirror my own.

They’re tired from getting through another long, grey Tuesday. They also seem wary of the new gym instructor — is he the type who makes allowances or will he expect us, inexplicably, to be fit as he is?

I turn to the person beside me and, before I can overthink it, manage to ask, “Is this your first class?”

She looks a little surprised, but then her face breaks into a wide smile. “Yes,” she replies.

She tells me her name is Mariam and she’s from Afghanistan. A brief conversation ensues. We chat about working as teachers (we have this in common) and the curious case of the phone company in Afghanistan that shares my first name. Soon, we’re interrupted by the gym instructor who gathers us around to start the session.

As Mariam and I begin an excessively long round of squat jumps, we both feel just a bit less alone.I used to think that my struggle to spend long periods of time by myself was a weakness.

I overlooked the fact that by our very nature as humans, we need to see and interact with others.

We need to be heard and accepted just as we are, with all our flaws and quirks.

We need to share our fears and dreams with those we trust.

We need these things on a regular basis — and when we are unable to do them, parts of us ache, whether we realise it or not. Changing this isn’t as hard as it seems. We can start by really looking at and listening to the people around us — it might help us notice what they are actually trying to say. The boss who seems brazen and arrogant may be trying to mask his own insecurities. The new colleague who avoids eye contact may be nervous instead of aloof. The child who’s acting up may worried about something she can’t put into words — the only way to find out what this is to stay open and present.

Pay attention to others’ need to be heard, but also to your own. When you start to feel restless and realise you haven’t had contact with other humans in a while, find ways to make this happen. Visit a nearby store or a library. Go to an event, even if you don’t feel like it — whether or not you make a new friend, you will benefit simply by being around people. Call someone you care about and let them actually hear your voice instead of firing off undemonstrative texts.

A few sincere, well-chosen words can be all it takes to connect with someone. I discovered this at the start of this year. After a few weeks surrounded by family chatter and home-cooked meals, I had just returned to my normal work routine, which involves large chunks of time spent working by myself. I was struggling to remain as productive as I liked, not least because I felt lonely and a little lost. After having not written for almost a month, I managed to publish an article and found that it got very little traction.Then, unexpectedly, I got a message from a new friend that began, “Roshan, I’m disappointed to learn that…” Letting people down is a trigger for me, so with a pang, I opened it immediately. I discovered to my relief that it was a lighthearted note and a generous compliment about the article.

The effect of this comment was remarkable — and for once, this had little to do with getting an ego boost. Instead, I felt deep gratitude that someone had taken the time to consider what I had shared and reached out. It was a simple act on my friend’s part, but a powerful one all the same.

We shouldn’t hesitate to tell people that we care. Surprisingly, it may be something they seldom hear.

.To read more of my articles please visit my articles page

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