Sometimes a talking to strangers can be life-changing act of self-care.
Recently, I met a woman who grew up in Vietnam, and I listened intently as she described how she worked in rice fields as a young girl. She remembered living in a state of constant fear while working alongside her family.
Animal attacks were not uncommon because the tall grasses provided a dangerous camouflage. For that reason, at a very young age she was taught how to treat poisonous snake bites quickly, elude predators such as anacondas, and evacuate her home in case of flooding. She and her family had to learn and use basic survival skills every day, something most Americans aren’t familiar with outside of reality TV.
Food was not readily accessible to them either. Instead, they relied on what they were able to grow, and their survival also depended on them staying safe and healthy enough to work.
As I listened to her share those emotional memories, I realized how fortunate I was to grow up and live where I do. And I also realized how sheltered and myopic many of my views have become because of it. Like most Americans, I’ve lived a life of convenience and comfort. I’ve had more than enough food, an education, a little extra money to buy things I don’t really need, and shelter from the elements.
I forget that life isn’t like that for many others across the globe. It’s easy to see why so many want to live here. While we’re busy complaining about working long hours, there are many families simply trying to stay alive.
And it doesn’t help that most of us tend to interact with people who think and act like we do. Unless we venture out of our familiar circles, we rarely hear or experience anything that falls outside of our own perspectives and beliefs.
Unfortunately, that can also foster a narrow-mindedness that excludes compassion.
As you move through the lifestyle design process and assess the Relational and Environmental dimensions of your self-care practice, consider making talking to strangers who see the world differently a habit. Ask them questions. Listen to their answers.
It might just change how you view the world and your role in it.
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