Sadly, bad things happen every day all over the world. I believe that they always have, but now we are inundated with live, detailed media coverage of it all in addition to the stress we are already experiencing in our own lives and communities. Tragedies happen to people we know, people we work with, people we live near, and to us.
When something terrible happens to someone we are connected to, many times, we place expectations on ourselves to be able to do something to “fix” it or make it better. We expect ourselves to know exactly what to say; to arrange some sort of event like a memorial or fundraiser or potluck dinner; to be ‘strong’ for them. For some reason, we expect that we should know how to stop the other person from hurting so much, when we ourselves are hurting and stressed and fearful. And that is a lot of pressure.
Because of this pressure we put on ourselves and how tired we already are from dealing with our own lives, we frequently don’t do anything at all. We keep our distance; give them some space. We choose not to try because we may not live up to our own expectations to ‘fix’ it and then we feel bad for not doing anything. And we and person who is hurt are all missing out on connection that can help in so many ways.
We feel uncomfortable because the other person is hurting and we just want it to stop…for all of our sakes. That is just human nature. But feeling the good and the bad is a part of authentically experiencing this journey as a human. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I don’t know exactly what to say or do to stop the hurting and I don’t expect you to know how to either. That’s not our job.
I am here to tell you that you don’t have to know what to say or what to do. All you need to do is hold space for that person. Sit with them. Hold their hand. Provide a safe place with your presence. A safe place for them to feel what they feel and to just be. Provide them with company while they process and cope.
We must also acknowledge, however, that to be able to hold space for others and what they are feeling, we must also hold space for ourselves. We must acknowledge what we are experiencing. Then, let go of the expectations of doing it ‘perfectly’ and just be there for them. The strength that is provided from holding space for others to feel safe and connected is exponentially more healing than anything else we can do.
In the chaos of this world, we must learn to allow ourselves and others to be authentically human. We must remember that to feel the good, we have to feel the bad, but that we can survive feeling it all if we come together, connect, and allow each other to do so.
In this time of advertised and sensationalized tragedy, our connecting to each other by being there, breathing, loving, and holding space, can allow us to cope and to become stronger together. We can shorten the distance between us; we can feel that we are not alone in our suffering and anger; we can heal ourselves. And that will help to heal the world we are living in.
We must remember that we are all the same energy. We are all alike on the inside. We all hurt. But that we are stronger together. And being together doesn’t have to look like anything other than standing next to each other.
Aham Brahmasmi. I am the universe. And so are you.
Talk again soon,