A lesson about caring…

“And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”

There was a boy who said he cared. There were lots of boys who said they cared about lots of girls. There are lots of people who say they care about lots of other people. But what does that mean exactly? Because sometimes people who say they care the most don’t make you feel better when you need them to.

I have learned a lesson about caring lately. People think that asking if someone is ok when they’re upset is caring. And that’s a great way to show you care! But it’s not the most important, and sometimes that’s just not what we need. And a lot of the time we don’t even mean it when we are the ones asking.

Actions speak louder than words.

We have all hit rock bottom at some point in our lives. We can all remember a time when we just didn’t know how we would possibly go on. I remember in hard times thinking all I wanted was for someone to care, for someone to understand.

But when someone told me they cared and they understood, it didn’t make me feel better. I just would get frustrated because I thought no one could possibly understand exactly what I was feeling and thinking. And I already knew people cared about me, but that didn’t change how I thought and felt right then.

That is when I realized I didn’t need someone to wallow and whine with me, I didn’t need someone to agree with me. I needed someone to pull me up, someone who would take my hand and make me do the things I didn’t want to do, because sometimes the things you least want to do are the only things that can make it better.

That’s what real caring is. It’s not just being there for someone else, it’s living for someone else. There’s a big difference between living and being there.

Being there means showing up at their house with ice cream on a bad day. It means holding their hand or hugging them while they cry.

But the truest kind of love, real caring, is putting someone before yourself. Really caring means showing up with ice cream on that bad day without even having to know what made it so bad. Really caring means being the shoulder to cry on even when you don’t know why they are crying. Really caring means encouraging others to do what makes them happy, even if it doesn’t involve you.

I had a friend who cried at prom. The music was perfect, she had no boys to worry about, and she looked gorgeous, but something else was wrong. So I hugged her while she cried and then asked what was wrong. She said “I can’t talk about it tonight.” I said “are you sure?” At first I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t tell me. But then I realized it wasn’t about me, so I said “ok. Let’s dance.” She didn’t want to at all and insisted on staying in her chair and thinking. But after a little while I walked back over to her and said “get out of your head. Stop thinking. Live here in this moment. There is something good in every day. This is our good thing.” Soon enough I was able to pull her onto the dance floor.

Really caring is not giving up. And that doesn’t mean insisting that someone tell you why they are upset even when they say they don’t want to talk about it. It’s not forcing someone to share their darkest secrets. Not giving up means when they chose to sit it out, you make them dance.

So think before you say “I did it because I care.” There’s a difference between caring and personal satisfaction. Don’t do something “because you care” just to make yourself feel better.

I think a lot of the time we take pride in being other people’s confidants. When people relate to us and share a secret or a wish, we feel needed. And the same thing goes for problems. When someone tells you why they are upset, you feel special and proud that someone trusts you.

But we need to learn to listen with the intent to understand, not to respond.

Real caring is not about you. Real caring is selfless. Caring is a choice. And when a person does trust you with a problem, they trust you to help them make it better. And if you are lucky enough to have someone who cares about you like this, no questions asked, If you have someone that will pull you up of the floor and out of your funk, take them up on it.  Get up and get out of your head and find one good thing in every day. Because you’re the only one who can open yourself up to change.

Real caring isn’t just understanding someone’s problem but helping them to change it, whether it’s for yourself or someone else.

So the lesson I have learned about caring? When life knocks you on the floor, the real friends don’t just sit down with you and mope. The people who really care are the ones who not only pull you up and show you how to stand, but, better yet, the ones who remind you how to dance. Because even though it’s nice to have someone who understands, it’s even better to have someone that doesn’t have to.

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