We live in a world where bad things happen. No one is immune to this. Bad things have always happened, but now we are inundated with live, detailed media coverage of it all. This adds to the “everyday stress” that 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 things of ourselves in the face of tragedy that may also add to stress levels and not help anyone cope. We expect that we should know exactly what to say to the person who is suffering. We busy ourselves with doing something like arranging some sort of event. We pressure ourselves to be ‘strong’ for them so that we aren’t adding to their emotional upheaval. Our culture fails to teach us how to be with the pain and instead, we do things to attempt to stop the other person from hurting so much because that will make us more comfortable and help us to feel useful. That is a lot of pressure when we, too, are hurting.
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. It is human nature to want to move out of pain. But feeling the good and the bad is a part of authentically experiencing this journey as a human. It is not our job to be able to “fix it” for the other person. We don’t have to know what to say or what to do. All we need to do is hold space for that person. Sit with them. Hold their hand. Provide a safe place with our 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, we can let go of the expectations of doing it ‘perfectly’ and simply 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 be right where we are in the process.
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. And that we are stronger together. Being together doesn’t have to look like anything other than standing next to each other.
This week, I invite you to practice being there for yourself and for others by simply holding space. Remember that it is ok if we don’t do it “perfectly”. I will be practicing right along with you.
Chat again soon,