It is the need and desire of every human being to be acknowledged. Whether we consciously recognize it or not, we all want someone to be interested in us. We want to be valued and welcomed into conversations. We want people to ask us what we think and agree with our thoughts. We want to be told that we are offering something valuable and contributing to the lives of others. We want our perspectives to be accepted because then, we feel that we are accepted. Mostly, we want to be heard when we feel alone and without support.
A key idea that often comes up during our YES events is this:
When you seek to offer what you’re lacking, you will likely receive it.
Imagine walking into a room full of new people. You know some of them, but you are being introduced to most for the first time. Someone recently told me that they are often unsure of what to do in this situation. They feel uncomfortable and uncertain about how to interact: What do I say? Where do I begin? It dawned on me that the best place to begin is to examine your own mind and heart. Ask yourself some questions:
With what spirit am I entering this room?
If I’m nervous, what am I nervous about?
If I’m uncertain, what am I uncertain about?
If I’m worried, what am I worried about?
Some of the answers to these questions may be:
I am looking to be welcomed and find people to spend time with, so I am not alone.
I am nervous that I will be alone.
I am uncertain about who I will meet.
I am worried that I won’t find people who want to spend time with me.
All of these thoughts and feelings are very common. Begining with this perspective can set the tone for the entire experience. What if you entered the room with this thought?
I want everyone I meet to feel seen, heard, and welcomed.
Imagine embracing this perspective. I want to hear others and see others, rather than worry that they see me. I want to know others and understand others, rather than trying to be understood. I want to create a comfortable space for those I interact with, so that they can find comfort in this new experience. I want to ask and remember the names of new people, so that they feel that they belong in this new space. I want to ensure that everyone I have the blessing to meet leaves the room feeling the comfort of knowing they are not alone.
Most people who seek first to be heard have felt alone in rooms like these most of their lives. They have felt so consistently unsure of themselves that the only peace they have is the peace that follows reassurance. It’s amazing how God sets us up for the peace we need by sending us to the one in need. When we want to ask questions more than give answers, somehow, we get the answers we need. When we look for ways to comfort, we spend less time waiting for someone to comfort us. If we want people to give space to our thoughts and our words, we need to begin by making space for them.
Start with thinking about what you want others to experience from you. Begin by giving what you’re lacking. You will likely find that your burdens will be lighter, your worries will be few, and your voice will be heard.
-Katrina Bitar, YES Program Director