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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kind Words to Ease Your Suffering and Someone Else's


6 Kislev, 5773

I am preparing a feature story about how Israelis are coping emotionally with incessant rocket-fire upon civilians, and making my own coping efforts.  The situation is quite dangerous and filled with uncertainty. Israelis are demoralized that a ceasefire is being brokered. All ceasefires in the past have proved to be opportunities for the enemy to reload.

Today the focus of the blog is to help people who've suffered sex abuse as children and at any age. The owner of the listserv cited below, Mr. Shmuel Greenbaum, is a widower. His pregnant wife Judy/Shoshanah Yehudit was murdered by muslims in the Israeli Sbarro pizza restaurant on August 9 2001.

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Partners in Kindness <>
Date: Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 4:15 AM
Subject: Kind Words - Note Your Distressful Experiences

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Supporting Others
Our general policy is not to print the author's name
Edited by Shmuel Greenbaum
Printed with Permission of Partners in Kindness
I have a friend who was molested when he was younger. Years after the trauma, he is now able to support other victims of molestation.

He understands how much pain molestation causes, and how it destroys a child's innocence, and he is devoting a great deal of time to helping others who have experienced a similar trauma as a child.

He is also working hard on prevention education efforts, so that with G-d's help, many of our parents and their children can be armed with knowledge to help protect them from this prevalent form of abuse.

Note Your Distressful Experiences
From Kindness: Making a Difference in People's Lives:
Formulas, stories, and insights
By Zelig Pliskin
Printed with Permission of Shaar Press
patient in hospital
I heard these stories from my students:

When I was in the hospital for complex surgery, it gave me a whole new understanding what it feels like to be helpless and totally dependent on the good will of others. I kept thinking, "Now I know what it's like when others talk about being nervous before surgery." I remember my post-surgery distress. I felt grateful for those who spoke to me gently and gave me visions of hope. That was five years ago and since then I have been able to give comfort with the knowledge of someone who has been there himself.

I lost my job at the worst possible time in my life. I was financially and emotionally vulnerable. Fortunately, I became successful. I was able to look back at that experience as the turning point in my life. Not only did that lay the foundation for my financial success it also made me much more sensitive to what others go through when they lose their jobs. I utilized what I learned from the experience to give encouragement and advice to many others throughout the years.

When I am alert and full of flowing energy, my mind works quickly. I am immediately able to understand what I read and hear. Even when I don't understand something, I know that with patience I eventually will. But when I am tired or in an unresourceful state, I feel overwhelmed. I can't understand even simple ideas. I can look at a page and it just doesn't register. I forget what I hear in just a few seconds. This pattern has enabled me to be sensitive to those who experience this in particular areas and all the more so to those who experience this all the time.

I went through a bout of depression. It didn't last very long. But I couldn't shake it as quickly as I would have wished. From then on I stopped offering simple platitudes to others who were depressed. 

Every difficulty in your life builds up your mental library of what it's like to go through hard times. Every mistake enables you to empathize with others who make mistakes. Every time you become frustrated or angry, you gain a better understanding of others who feel this way. Make note of all your worries and your fears. Make note of your uncomfortable or embarrassing moments. These together with every injury, illness, and wound help you to become more sensitive to the suffering of others.

Make note of what you didn't appreciate hearing from others when you were suffering. And remember the comments and suggestions of others that you did appreciate. What did they say? How did they say it? Keep in mind that every individual is unique. You might have gained from what someone said to you in a specific way, but someone else would not find that beneficial. But at least you have a better understanding of the distress of those who suffer. And the responses you liked can serve as a starting point.

When you view your own pain, distress, and suffering as tools for empathy and understanding, you have a reframe that will elevate every difficult experience throughout your life. You will never suffer just for yourself. You are always learning lessons about how you can help others. Without life experience, a person can be well-meaning and full of good intentions, but might say the wrong things. With experience, you have greater insight. Your intuitions become more accurate. So remember past moments of distress and view them as great resources for helping others. May you never suffer, but since we all suffer to some degree let your own suffering be a source of light, comfort, and healing to others who suffer.

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Responses From Readers
About a previous story (below)
medical receptionist
* It is so common for people to say the opposite, such as "are you OK? You look terrible" or "You look exhausted." Or similar negativecomments. Thanks for sharing this valuable lesson. (TY)

* Congratulations on your baby! I hope that by now he's completely healthy.

And remember, when the baby sleeps, you go to sleep too! Don't take "advantage" of the fact that he's sleeping in order to finish cleaning the house, doing dishes, etc. That can wait, and gaining your strength back is more important now, both for you and the baby! (SES)

Previous Story:

Our newborn's pediatrician had sent us to the local hospital's lab to get some blood work done, and we got there just a few minutes before we assumed the lab would close for the day.

We asked a few people we saw in the hallway for directions to the lab, and ended up desperately running from one section of the hospital to another, unable to find it. One person even directed us ("make a right, then a left, then your first left. . .") to a large room filled with tables, each with several microscopes. We weren't looking for that lab!

Finally, a woman said, "Oh, the lab? Sure, just make a right, then another right. . .". When she saw the despairing look on my face, she very kindly got up from her desk and walked us there - this time, it really was just around the corner.

By this time, I was really feeling unwell - I had just given birth 5 days earlier, and was not feeling up to all this running around, compounded by worry about the baby.

When we entered the lab (which was still open), I walked over to the receptionist to give her the doctor's requisition for the blood test, and she asked me for the baby's information.

When I gave her his date of birth, she looked up in surprise, and said, "But that's just last week! Wow, you look great! You don't even look tired or anything!"

I can't begin to describe the effect her kind words had on me. I figured, "if I really don't look as though I'm about to fall through the floor, then maybe I'm not. I guess I'm more OK than I thought."

Her words (together with a drink of water!) really helped me pull myself back together again. You never know what a smile and a positive comment can do to someone, or how much they may need them.

More About Partners In Kindness
Speaking About Kindness
Audience ParticipationWhen Shmuel Greenbaum has the opportunity to speak, he rivets his audience's attention through stories and audience participation. Participants come away feeling very positive and excited about doing something great.

His excitement for kindness is infectious, as this student from New York City's Stuyvesant High School explains:

I was expecting to attend the lecture given by Shmuel Greenbaum for one period. I ended up staying for four. It is so uplifting, so enlightening, so refreshing to hear someone like him talk, to simply bubble over with excitement at the thought of doing good in the world. He is in his way a role model to us all.

You think to yourself, "If only everyone else could practice kindness in the way that Shmuel Greenbaum has, the world would truly be a better place."

For further information, please visit our website
or send us an e-mail

Note: photos are not audiences at Partners in Kindness events.

More about our emails
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Kind Words is a free weekly e-mail distributed by Partners In Kindness.

Although the content of these e-mails contains copyrighted material, Partners in Kindness allows users who register at our website to reprint them in print, on a website, or on an e-mail distribution list at no cost.

If you have permission to reprint this e-mail, please ensure that you reprint the entire e-mail (including this notice).

Names of people, places, and other details mentioned in these stories may have been changed to protect privacy.

Kindness is like music, art, sports or any other discipline -- it can only be mastered with practice, training, and lots and lots of encouragement. That is what Partners in Kindness is trying to promote.

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A Daily Dose of Kindness is the result of the collaboration of hundreds of volunteers and financial supporters of many different religions and nationalities. These stories of caring may bring new hope to Israel, the Middle East and the world.

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It is possible to choose decency and dignity in the face of suffering. Jews have done this for as long as Judaism has been around. We do not destroy others or ourselves when we're unhappy. GOD doesn't want destruction or human sacrifice. That's the spiritual, moral and social lesson of Abraham's "sacrifice" of Isaac. It didn't happen because GOD is opposed to the immorality of murder and other forms of abuse.

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