A long time ago I started to go to counseling, to help me cope with my life. At that time I was completely overwhelmed, my husband’s diagnosis, two teenage boys and a full time job. I used to walk around with my eyes focused on the sidewalk in front of me, as if I was afraid to look up. What was really going on was that my brain was constantly going over all that was happening and imagining all that could happen in the future. I was really good at “projecting”; thinking about this scenario or that, what I might do in either case, worrying about all the things that might happen.
As I continued to go to counseling I was brought back to the “now”, and I started to walk along with my head up, looking around me. It seemed as if I was looking at things for the first time. People on the sidewalk smiled at me! Wow! Then I started to smile back. Pretty soon I was saying good morning to complete strangers and what a feeling that was. I was so surprised when they said good morning back to me! There were other people out in the world who were kind and nice and why hadn’t I noticed this before?
I was so wrapped up in my own problems, my own misery, that I didn’t see others around me. When trouble strikes us, one coping mechanism is to pull in, not unlike a turtle. We block out the world because it hurt us and we can’t deal with it. The problem with doing this is that you miss the good things: the beautiful sunset, the flower in the yard, the smell of a rose, a baby’s smile. We get tired and grumpy and don’t take time to look at the good things.
So, if you are being a turtle today, I would encourage you to peek outside your shell and take a good look around you. Just experiment and smile at someone today. You may be surprised when they smile back. And the rest of us, look around for the “turtles” that come your way and be a blessing. Just a kind word and a smile can go a long way.