Sitting with many emotions these days. Things coming and going, bubbling up and occasionally spilling over. It’s been a summer of loss. Two women from different families, who will not be able to hug their sisters again. Two moms who each left a legacy of laughter and striving in spite of adversity. Mentors and friends. One transitioning right now.
And the civil unrest. I believe…civil unrest is a symptom of growth. Others do not feel the same way. It’s ok, because we are *each limited in our understanding of things.
What growth is not destructive? What true, deep and lasting transformations are not painful?
When we remove all the stories, performances, theories and scripts (our protective scripts), each of us is grappling with our own experiences, inside communities offering both limitations AND opportunities. And within communities, each person is impacted quite differently because disparity is real.
We grip against pain. It’s adaptive…protective.
We are each doing our best between periods of suffering and moments of ease. Maybe some moments of joy here and there. There’s a lot of the mundane–dishes, laundry, work.
And when things get hard, we struggle to listen. Actually, we struggle to listen, period. We retreat. And we get noisy. We forget we are individual organisms, separate from our causes and beliefs. We fuse our identities with, and build our lives around our jobs, for instance. But we are not our jobs.
We can not “perspective shift” fluidly, without training ourselves to. Most of us think we are practicing taking another person’s perspective, but we forget to leave our own perspective aside for a minute. That is…not perspective shifting.
We forget to try to understand. We make assumptions. It is easier to think incompletely.
Our assumptions are incomplete truths. They are not much more than crude efforts to protect our own fragilities. Raw nerves we turn away to protect. And to be clear, turning one’s back–cancelling, ghosting, abandoning, etc. is very different from taking a step back.
Taking a step back is protective of the connection. Turning our backs is protective of ourselves. And each is valid. But be clear about what is taking place. Take ownership of your actions.
The act of stepping back, practicing perspective shifting, and then taking time to integrate the outcomes of that process is much harder than anchoring oneself to a script. It takes time, the desire, a certain amount of emotional maturity and support.
And sometimes we don’t care to, or do not have the capacity to strive for new understandings.
Sometimes this type of engagement helps us reaffirm our original position. It’s not always about the merging of ideas. And sometimes and interaction changes our understanding entirely–for better or worse.
We all have to tend to our own pain. And in the moments we can, we must allow ourselves to know ease. We have to practice knowing it so that it can become part of our experience. Flexing and building our “ease experience” allows us to have these interactions with others with greater cooperation from our reptilian brains. Too often, we rush into the next wave without taking time for that rest. Or it engulfs us while we are trying to.
However you need to, in the way that is yours, tend to your own pain. If there is anything left, in that space between episodes of turbulence and healing, then we can look out at our circles and maybe even our communities.
We have an *opportunity to engage in collective, communal care. We have the *ability to connect out; we are talking, thinking human mammals. We do not always have the *capacity. Honor each of these parts of the human experience.
Everyone is different. I know many people for whom pain management is a full time job. It’s important work and we judge ourselves for it, unnecessarily. And I am curious why this overflows into a tendency to judge people who unconditionally offer us that room to be imperfectly complete.
Are they martyrs, codependents, etc? Maybe…some of us are just people who understand people.
Bottom line…if we don’t tend to our own pain, we carry it out into our interactions. The alternative is not to hide in suffering. We’re not made that way, though some of us find ourselves there often.
Between the mistakes we might make and the lessons we learn from one another, we have these precious moments where we lift one another. Here and there, we experience these little gifts.
Isn’t that cool?