I’ve got a few friends going through some deep suffering right now. It includes loss, grief, anxiety, fear and loneliness. They are in pain. It’s like they are sitting in thick black tar and they don’t feel like they can move. You may have some people in a similar space.
I have been there for them. Listening, calling, sitting, being. Yet I am going to confess, that while they are in this space I have felt a little left out. That I am there for them, holding the space for their pain, but I have felt they are not there for me. Not checking in to see if I am ok. To ask what I need.
When people are suffering their behaviours will reflect it. They may become withdrawn, self-focused, defensive, emotional, have low self-awareness, they retreat or become needy. This is because they are in pain. Their behaviours, what they say, what they do or don’t do is not about us. Yet it is so easy to fall into the trap of believing it is.
I love ‘The Four Agreements’ written by Don Miguel Ruiz which gives us a simple platform to create harmony and peace in our lives and those around us. In the second agreement we are invited to ponder; ‘Don’t take anything personally’. It’s a big ask I know. He says that;
When you take things personally, then you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflict. You make something big out of something so little, because you have the need to be right and make everyone else wrong.
We become triggered by them. And it is easy to justify our reactions because of where they are at. Whoa right?! If you are brave enough to consider this, then maybe, just maybe (like me) you have been making it about you.
So the new space I am in is how can I find the capacity to give more and be there for them. Not make it about me. Not take where they are at, personally.
After all, empathy is the most extraordinary human emotion. We’ve got to be careful not to let it be dormant.