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Words Become Actions

Grocery shopping was next on my family’s list of errands. It was sweltering outside and our car’s air conditioner was turned to max, our faces leaning toward the vents to get as close as we could to the cold air. 

As we waited at the stoplight of a busy intersection, we saw an elderly man sitting on a walker. The light turned green, and we drove through. Thirty minutes later, we drove past in the opposite direction and saw the man still in the same place. 

While unloading the groceries, the girls and I continued wondering about the man at the intersection:
“I wonder if he was hurt?”
“Did his walker look broken?”
“I hope he has water.”
“Do you think he was headed to the grocery store?”
“Is he waiting for someone?”
“Does the bus pick people up there?”
“What if he was lost?”

“I am going to help him,” my husband said. 

A short time later, my husband walked back into the house. He had found the man and learned he lived in a memory care home nearby. The man had hurt his leg and became confused while out for a walk. He didn’t have a way to contact the facility because he couldn’t remember the name. The man was scared. He was in pain. He was hot and thirsty. My husband helped the man move to a shady spot, got him some water, called the nearby facilities and found out where he was living. They sent someone right over to pick him up. The man was so grateful for my husband’s help. 

“I am going to help him,” my husband had said. And he did. 

Our words connect to our actions. Wishing and hoping and wondering are often words we use to begin preparing ourselves for action – but alone, they do not signal commitment to action. Other words show our readiness to act – I will, I am ready, I promise, I am going to – these words help take us beyond thinking about action to doing something about it.

On that very hot day, when someone was in need of help, these words of action helped a grateful man get safely home.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.