“I’m glad you were born.” That is what I told my wife on the day I met her, her 30th birthday. She liked it. Still does.
Wishing someone a happy birthday or a happy any day is an affirmation, a validation of their right to air. It is an expression of our willingness to share life with them. That is a very powerful kind of respect, and all we want is a little respect.
Yesterday, I enjoyed birthday wishes from many people on Facebook, some who have never seen my face. I got calls from my daughters, and my teenage grandson talked to me for several minutes. Nancy made my favorite dinner. It was a good day.
The first step in healing scars of trauma may be the simple act of validation, an affirmation of humanity. Happy birthday, good morning, or an honest smile may be all it takes. It is easy and cheap. Why is it so rare?
For those afflicted with invisible wounds (most of us), there is a double problem. First, we believe people are more dangerous than lions, tigers, or bears. We have great difficulty trusting people. Second, we have trouble feeling worthy so that any perceived slight is taken as gross disrespect.
Road rage is a problem—even inside the supermarket.
A simple kind of love soothes us. It might be a form of philos, the love of our fellow human beings, that encourages us back to social and emotional health. When someone takes the time to wish us well, even without words by offering us help or encouragement, it validates our humanity. We feel bigger, more worthy, and less wounded.
A colleague stopped by my office, yesterday, just to ask me if I had enough work to do. That was a validation of my efforts to move our program development along, an acknowledgement of my worth.
Another invited me to participate in his class even though I had too much to do to go. He gave me the materials to read on my time. That is professional respect.
I am a fortunate man.
Our world is full of angry, ill people, and we have developed a habit of pointing out faults of the other. We feel like others, us and them, and so we become enemies when we are really all the same. We all want a little respect.
“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Breathe all the air you want, today, and have a great day. I’m glad you were born.