Look at what you have done

11314410723_83edd6522a_zYou are not powerless. Perhaps you are choosing to do nothing.

People around me are moaning about the state of the country. Social media are blaring out non-stop negativity about how bad everything is. Hate, crime, violence, xenophobia – it’s all there.

If you think you can do nothing, think again.

If you had been grocery shopping with me the other day, you would have seen something that I found quite upsetting.

I was in a well-known supermarket at the end of Republic Road. Standing a little impatiently in the queue, I was doing what I love doing – watching people’s interactions.

I heard a commotion at one of the tills. A man was performing, shouting very loudly at the teller, complaining bitterly about the service. Making quite a spectacle of himself. Name-calling and blaming. Disrespecting and awful.

I looked at the teller’s face. Dead-pan. (By the way – teenagers also do this beautifully if you yell and scream at them) She literally ignored him, took his money and moved on.

Looking closer though, I could see tell-tale signs that she was upset – clenching her teeth, she looked down to hide her teary eyes.

I’m not saying that you mustn’t complain if you are unhappy about something. It’s important to be able to effectively lodge a complaint so that the issue can be sorted out. There is a, however, a constructive way to do this (watch out for this in a forthcoming newsletter)

What I don’t think this man was aware of was how destructive he was being.

All he had to do was look closely at the teller’s face to see the effect he was having on her. But he was so busy with his own internal being and with parading the fact that he was wronged, that he forgot to treat this human being with compassion and respect.

The core of problems in this country and the world is a lack of compassion and respect for others.

You can make a difference to our country. Here’s what to do:


There is only one way to know how you are impacting on others and that is to LOOK.

Look at their faces. Notice the colour changes, the expression in the eyes, the tilt of the head, the breathing, the expression – there is so much to see.

Doing this will give you feedback about how others are experiencing you.

Once you become aware of how other’s are experiencing you, you can choose to always make it a positive experience.


If you treat people with compassion, rather that resistance and disrespect – you will find yourself in winning situations. There is incredible power in compassion.

Years ago I attended a workshop at Wits University with Martha Beck. I remember she taught us the power of compassion with a simple exercise. I was excited to find a demo of this exercise on YouTube

You can see it here.


Teach others about these three steps. Encourage your friends and families to practice compassion and respect. Encourage them to teach others to do this too. The more you do, the more people who adopt this simple strategy, the happier we will be as a nation.

What are you doing to make your country a better place?

You are not powerless. If there is nothing else y0u can do, you can at least do this.

You can choose to make a difference with every person you meet.

Look at the faces of people you interact with, treat them with compassion and respect, and encourage others to do the same.

Join me – let’s do it!

Love and compassion are necessities,
not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.

Dalai Lama

 Photo from Flickr

About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.
This entry was posted in awareness, Communication, Life Mastery, Make a difference. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Look at what you have done

  1. Lorraine says:

    Hi Kirsten
    I was feeling very helpless and did not know what to do, I guess we feel powerless and overwhelmed at the same time because we want to make a difference on a bigger scale.

    Thank you for reminding me that I can make a difference in my immediate environment and hopefully it will spread to national level.

    • Kirsten Long says:

      Hi Lorraine,

      Thanks for sharing. You are right in saying we want to make a difference – that is what gives us meaning in life.

      When you bring your focus and intention back to making a difference in some small way, things start going smoothly again. This had been my experience so often. As soon as I start stressing about all sorts of other things, I feel unhappy and things seem to go wrong. When I bring my focus back to someone else, and how I can make a difference, life seems more manageable.

      Hope all goes well for you as you do make that difference.
      Kind regards,

  2. Olaf says:

    I guess a lot of people in South Africa are under tremendous stress, and when they don’t have some kind of coping mechanism it comes out in such unpleasant situations as you describe. Maybe the whole country should go for Anger Management Training!

    • Kirsten Long says:

      Yes, Olaf, things are very stressful here at the moment. It is so sad. I have this fantasy that everyone would do as I suggest and encourage others to do the same so that we can move from hate to love and tolerance!! It would make a huge difference…. Sigh!

  3. stacey says:

    Thanks Kirsten. Enjoyed this so much. LOVE AND COMPASSION..

    May you be blessed..


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