I gave blood at the central blood donation centre in Singapore. This is something I’ve done on and off since I was 17 and it feels like an important part of my life. The staff and facilities at the centre are top notch and if you’ve not given before, I’d really suggest that you donate there (I’ll go along with you if it’s my time to give). During my brief experience, I considered a few interesting connections that can apply to the subconscious, the mind and as many experiences as beats of our blood-pumping hearts.
Small acts may not be so small
It’s only a pint, a small amount of blood that literally grows back within weeks. Historically many cultures believed that forcing the body to produce new blood actually fortified the systems and cleaned out the workings of the body. By the looks of it, there’s no down side of donating for me. Other than a pleasant period of time signing in, getting my blood pressure checked, lying with a little needle in my arm for a few minutes and drinking milo after, the time cost is low and the discomfort is minimal. No big deal, right?
When someone has an accident or is in surgery, it is a big deal. It’s a life changing deal. While one pint, on its own, may not be the difference between life and death, it may. That little act that doesn’t cost me a thing can change the life of someone else.
Does that work with anything else in life? Of course it does! What does a kind word, a short phone call, a supportive comment do for someone who needs a boost? At times it can seem life-saving to them. Looking at your strengths and talents – while they might be easy for you, and seem like no big deal, how can you use them to support others who may not have those same tools and attributes?
There are always opportunities to teach, and learn
No matter where you are there are opportunities to teach and to learn. I know that I used an opportunity with one of the nurses to talk about waking suggestions and painted words. Painted words are words that take on a life of their own when they are spoken. Words like ‘pain’ or ‘hurt’ tend to be painted words because when someone says it, we tend to react to these as though there’s going to be just that. So instead of saying, “Does it hurt?” I gave another option, that went something like, “let me know if you want me to stop.” Even the word ‘discomfort’ is less of a painted word than ‘hurt’.
I made sure it was ok to give her this suggestion, understanding that she was already doing her job so competently, it was just a little bonus. In exchange told me a lot more about the blood donation process, the needs they had, and when they tended to be most desperate – wherever you are in the world, the holidays are usually the times with the greatest need. So there was give and take, teaching and learning, in a spirit of greater information and understanding.
Connect when You’re Open (What are you expecting?)
I know that a blood donation centre is a strange place to be thinking about expectations and openness, but I know when I was speaking to some friends about giving blood, they gave me ample opportunity to collect some examples. When you expect it is going to hurt, that there will be poor support and lacking equipment, it’s less likely that you’re going to go out and give blood. But what if you have to – even have a blood test?
Those expectations carry along with you wherever you go. When the needle is about to enter, the mind thinks “this is going to hurt!”, tenses up – and naturally tense flesh is going to resist the needle more, creating pain.
When we have negative or positive expectations about others, that tends to flow into the way we act, talk, behave and react to others. If we expect someone to not know what they’re doing, the subconscious mind tends to follow orders directly and will find that incompetence. The minor changes in our body language or the tone of our voice can give others messages that they may negatively react to, so our thoughts create self-fulfilling prophesies.
I’m not saying that everything will be peaches and cream all the time, but you can expect the worst or expect the best, and when I ‘save a life’ by donating with all the other great people who contribute, I’m only expecting the best. Which makes my life better as well.