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How You Made Them Feel

August 24, 2016 at 2:51 PM

For two months I've been using the Five Minute Journal app on my phone each morning.  The app allows me to list three things that I am grateful for, and three things I will do to "make today great."  Later in the day, I can list three good things that happened during the day.  I am finding it a helpful way to stay focused and to be doing positive things each day.

Each morning when I open the app, a quote pops up first.  Yesterday had a quote from Maya Angelou:  "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  People will never forget how you made them feel.

My mother died recently.  She had been a foster mother for over 100 children, some long term and many on a short-term, emergency basis.  One of the foster girls shared several stories of my mom when she learned of her death.  Among those stories was the way my mom listened to her night after night.  This girl had been bullied at school and it really brought her low.  But, she was able to talk to my mom, who listened and as she listened, the girl felt more and more loved.  This girl grew up to be a competent adult with a family of her own.  And, what she remembered of my mom was how my mom made her feel – loved.

It brought to mind the day my mom and I were sitting at the kitchen table.  She said to me, "The twinkle is gone from your eyes and we're going to get it back."  At that moment, I felt understood.  Someone recognized what I was going through and understood me.  About a week later, I came home one night from work, walked into the dining room and there were eight of my friends for dinner.  My mom had surprised me with a birthday dinner.  I felt a little self-conscious, and I felt very much loved.

Of course, my mother wasn't perfect.  I also remember the day we were at a neighbor's home for a cup of coffee.  I preferred tea, which the neighbor served, and I managed to spill it.  My mom blurted out, "Becky's a klutz."  I felt embarrassed; embarrassed to be klutzy, and embarrassed that my mom announced it to someone else.

When someone dies, we reflect back on their lives, and mostly we remember how they made us feel.  Maya Angelou is right.  And, so my mother's death has given me pause to consider how I am making people feel.  Am I surprising them?  Am I saying things that embarrass them?  Am I doing things that hurt their feelings?  Or, am I doing what makes them feel loved?  Am I helping others feel confident, or peaceful, or hopeful?

I'm not sure.  What I do know is that I want to pay attention to how my words and actions are making other people feel.

I do recommend the Five Minute Journal, which can be found in the App Store.

Tags: Maya Angelou, feelings, death