It happens this way …
I hate New Year’s resolutions. They always seem a set-up for disappointment, guilt, and self-incrimination. Then I came upon this wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh and it hit home:
Last week a friend was going through some painful stuff. What it was about isn’t the point. What is the point was my knee-jerk reaction to her suffering: I wanted to fix it, take it away, rescue her. I wanted her to accept my words of enlightenment so she could embrace my joy and peace, and make them her own. Wrong!
Serendipitously, I had just read an article about Megan Devine’s work with grief and loss (https://www.brainpickings.org/2020/12/16/megan-devine-okay-not-okay-grief/). She says the best way to help people feel better is to acknowledge their pain and let them be in their pain. Whoa! Counterintuitive, right? – but effective.
Often, we mistake for personal failure our inability to salve another’s grief or mistake for their failure the inability to snap out of it on the timeline of our wishes.
In the brilliant video toward the end of the article – it’s worth a few moments to view it – Megan quotes educator Parker Palmer:
The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed exactly as it is.
What’s the most effective strategy? Acknowledgment. Join others in their pain, don’t try to cheer them up.
So, 2021 may invite me to resolve to keep digging and digging and digging my own well while acknowledging that everyone else has the ability to dig their own, too – according to their timeline. That way all of us can claim the enlightenment, joy, and peace that we can only give ourselves. Anyone up for digging during the coming year?