How I Gave a Little and Got a Lot by Becoming a Crisis Counselor

My daughter said, “Mom, you’d be good at this.”

The “this” was being a Crisis Counselor. My daughter had been volunteering for Crisis Text Line for about a year, and it wasn’t the first time she had urged me to apply. So far, I’d resisted, mostly out of fear.

What if I said the wrong thing? Who was I to think I could calm a suicidal person? What if I made things worse?

My daughter reminded me that I’d calmed her down plenty of times when she was working through challenges as a teen. And she promised that the training and supervision were superb. The thing that got me, though, was when she said, “Your self-esteem eggs are all in one basket, Mom. You need to spread them out a bit.”

She was right. I’m an author, and I sometimes work for years on projects that never see the light of day. It’s devastating when that happens because, even though it’s not true, it feels like my time and effort were wasted. It’s a blow to my self-esteem, and it makes it challenging to try again. I was reeling from a heartbreaking rejection on my latest manuscript when my daughter made the wise observation about my self-esteem eggs.

So I applied, even though I was scared. And I did the training, still scared. And I took my first shift, petrified. And you know what? My daughter was right again… I was good at this.

I love connecting with texters. I love that I don’t have to fix their problems. That simply by listening, empathizing, and validating, I am helping them. And I have to admit, I live for the feedback we get from texters. That feedback is the best boost to my self-esteem I can imagine.

My two main jobs in life have been Mom and Author, both delayed gratification pursuits. You probably have a preponderance of delayed gratification pursuits in your life, too. It’s part of being an adult. But crisis counseling is immediate. What a wonderful way to add balance to our lives.

The training has seeped into my world off the platform as well. Friends have mentioned that I’ve become an even better listener. When my kids come to me with problems, I no longer try to fix things for them. I empathize, validate, and support as they figure out their own solutions. I’m even gentler and more encouraging to myself.

It’s hard to believe that giving just four hours a week to Crisis Text Line has improved my life so much. But now, my self-esteem eggs are safely spread around. And in the ten months since I became a crisis counselor, I sold the manuscript that had broken my heart and finished another project that I’m now ready to sell. I might be good at crisis counseling. And, crisis counseling is good for me.

The holiday season is all about giving. What better time to commit to doing something that will be good for you, too. Pledge to #GiveTime this holiday season and join me as a Crisis Counselor.

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