Words stick. Negative words are especially sticky. So how much more important to speak out the positive when we see it.
It can feel strange to do, and it can be unusual to hear; but it lasts and can make the world of difference.
I had one of these moments one evening a few weeks ago when leaving the local health centre. It was cold and dark and home was beckoning. As I crossed the car park, I noticed a mum she and her young son. She was lifting him out of his special needs buggy to get him into the car and he sounded distressed. The noise he made was loud and he seemed to struggle. The mum had lots to pack away into the car but she stopped everything and comforted her son. She held him, speaking gently to him with reassurance as he sobbed. I’m not sure what was happening for him, but she clearly did and watching her calm him moved me. It was such a beautiful moment. I was conscious of wanting to help but not wanting to make matters worse so I got into my car and waited until she had her son seated in the car. I then reversed out of my space, wound down my window and said “Excuse me”. She looked up sharply and held a worried expression; expecting a complaint maybe. I said “I saw you with your son just now and wanted to say you are doing an amazing job. Seeing the way you calmed him was beautiful to watch”. She was taken aback and thanked me, her hand pressed to her heart. I drove off, tears in my eyes at being able to see one of life’s beautiful moments in what I’m sure was a stressful situation for the mum.
My introvert self fought over saying anything as I didn’t want to put myself out there. But something about this mum doing what she was doing, quietly, in the dark of the car park needed recognising. The vulnerability I felt in reaching out was mirroring the vulnerability of the mum with her son, and what better way to acknowledge than by sharing?
I will never know what impact it had, if any, but it felt worth my discomfort to risk it. So when you see something beautiful in someone, tell them.