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Posts Tagged ‘connection’

i never watch the news anymore, for a whole variety of reasons, the most prominent being that i don’t want to be exposed to the barrage of negativity.  but the night before last i fell asleep on the couch while i was watching something on tv, and woke up to the news of what happened in norway.

don’t get me wrong, i know when something “big” happens in the world.  someone will tell me and then i choose whether to read about it or not.  i usually choose not to.   i made a different choice yesterday and read all about the shooting…looked at pictures and obviously, it was horrifying.

as i took in all this information, i found myself feeling like i had been sheltering myself from a truth…the truth that people are really monsters.  this idea disturbed me.  i am not one to hide my head in the sand.  i have a positive outlook on life because it is what i truly believe, not because i am a pollyanna.  i feel i have come to the conclusions i have based on facts and my experiences, which at times have not been pretty.  still, the truth has remained the same for me…that people are inherently good.

but yesterday as i digested all this horror, i considered the fact that i just might be wrong about that.  that, in fact, people are horrible and will do atrocious things to one another.

then i came across this picture.

this is a picture of a passerby comforting a victim of the bombing in oslo.  one person comforting another.  a stranger who stopped to help.

from what i read, it seems that the authorities think the bombing and the shootings were carried out by one person…just one.  and i began to think about the contrast of one person, what one person can do…what one person is capable of.  one person.

it might be true that one person is responsible for these horrific acts.  if so, we can see that one person can kill many, many people in a short period of time.  one person can hurt so many…just one person…they can cause so much pain and hurt.

but conversely, what affect does just one person have “for good”?  we see one small example in the picture above of one person and what they choose to do with their power in the world…and often we don’t ever see the good that people do or the powerful effects that these acts have.

is the person who hurts more powerful then the person who helps?  i would argue no.  certainly violence, confusion and hatred are much louder forces, but they are temporary.  compassion, understanding and love are much stronger for that is who we truly are.

the horrific acts of violence go so much against our true nature, which is inherently good, that they have a huge impact on us.  they shock us into a distorted way of thinking.  i have been guilty of this distortion also.  i have been guilty of only looking at the horror that one person can do, vs. the healing another can do.

can one person do things that are so inhumane, that they are beyond comprehension to the rest of us?  yes.  but i will ask you…how many people don’t do such things?  if it’s true that one person is responsible for the attacks in norway, how many people didn’t kill people in norway the other day?  how many people ran to help those who were hurt after the attacks?  the ratio is really staggering if you think about it.

this can be said in pretty much any act of violence.  most of us are peaceful.  many more people run to help others vs. trying to hurt them.  it is our true nature to be peaceful..to reach out and support each other…to love…to connect.   sometimes in nature, including humans, things go wrong…we don’t get what we need, or we are born with a mental illness.  this leaves us confused and disconnected from our true nature.  but these few people who are lost and sick, they don’t represent the masses.  to extrapolate that on to the human race is quite illogical actually, but that doesn’t stop us from jumping to the incorrect conclusion that people are monsters when we see the horrors that someone is capable of.

when you think of what we all are capable of doing to each other, how much we can hurt each other, but almost none of us do…can’t you see how “good” we really are?  yes, i’m talking to you.

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if you are reading this, i want you to know that you are enough…right now…just as you are.   who you are, who you really are inside, is good.  we, as humans, can “do” “bad” things…we can certainly make “bad” choices at times…but that is just our behavior…that is not who we are.  i am not saying that everything anyone does is “ok”…or that there should be no consequences for actions…i believe in consequences…i believe in staying away from people who choose to behave in ways contrary to what i believe in or in ways that would hurt me.  none of that has to do with our innate worth as human beings.  you are worthy and good just because you exist.  i really believe that to be true.  imagine how you would feel if you believed it too?

someone else who believes that is dr. brene brown.  i wanted to pass on this video of one of her talks.  i think it is brilliant and important.  i hope you take the time to watch the whole thing, but in case you don’t, i have paraphrased some of what she said so you can read it.

dr. brown is a researcher, professor and author.  she began researching connection because “connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives…neurologically…that’s how we’re wired…it’s why we’re here…”

in her research she started to see that there were two groups of people…one who had a strong sense of belonging and those who struggle for it…”there was only one variable that separated people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and those who don’t….the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging…that’s it…they believe they’re worthy…the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection…”

she found that people who have a deep sense of worthiness have these things in common:

-a sense of courage…to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart…they had the courage to be imperfect…

-they had compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others…

-they had connection…as a result of authenticity…they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they were…you have to do that for connection…

-they fully embraced vulnerability…they believed that what made them vulnerable, made them beautiful…they didn’t talk about it being comfortable or excruciating…just necessary…the willingness to say i love you first…the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees…the willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.  they thought this was fundamental.

she learned we numb vulnerability…and the problem is you cannot selectively numb emotion…you can’t say…here’s the bad stuff…here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment…i don’t want to feel these…you can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other emotions…you cannot selectively numb…so when we numb those, we numb joy, gratitude, happiness…and then we are miserable and looking for purpose and meaning and it becomes this dangerous cycle…

another thing we do is try to make everything that is uncertain, certain…religion, politics…there is no discourse or discussion anymore…just blame…

and we perfect, most dangerously, our children…our job isn’t to keep them perfect…our job is to look at them and say “you’re imperfect and you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging…”

“but there’s another way…and this is what i’ve found…

to let ourselves be seen…deeply seen..vulnerably seen…to love with our whole hearts even though there’s no guarantee…to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror when we are wondering can i love you this much? can i believe in this as passionately?  can i be this fierce about this?  just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen to say…i’m just so grateful because to feel this vulnerable means that i am alive…and the last, which is probalby the most important is…

to believe that we are enough…”

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i have been thinking a lot lately about expectations…and connections.  i believe with all my heart that we are meant to make and have connections with others…that it is part of why we are here.  these connections can be so beautiful…so uplifting and supportive.  and they can be so painful.  so if we are “supposed” to have connections with others in our life, why do those connections sometimes bring so much pain?

is it our expectations of those connections that cause the pain?  i know they can.  people will always disappoint us.  i don’t see this as a bad thing necessarily, just a fact.  we are all individuals with our own personalities, our own wants, our own sets of issues…we all see life and others through the filter of our past experiences.  we can adjust and clear the filters…but we can never get rid of them completely.  in a way, they make us who we are…the experiences of our life.  so here we are, a bunch of different individuals on this planet, all with our own issues, all seeing things in our own particular way, all needing connection.  in a way that sounds like a recipe for disaster.

i think it can be.  i think if we expect others to be for us what we haven’t learned to be for ourselves, we are in for a world of hurt.  if we expect others to affirm and love us in ways that we cannot…we for sure will end up disappointed and hurt…and will probably end up doubting ourselves, doubting our self worth.  but this is just one side of the pendulum.  often after we experience that side, and feel that horrible pain, we decide we don’t want that anymore and swing to the other side of the pendulum.  i think this is human nature.  we want to survive. when we get hurt that badly, sometimes we come to the conclusion that we need to hide…be closed off…so we are never hurt like that again.

so we try out the other extreme…never letting anyone in, never reaching out, never being vulnerable.  while this might feel “safe”, i don’t think it is any way to live…to live our life in fear of rejection, not letting anyone see who you are, never sharing the beauty of our lives with anyone else…isolating.  what a shame it is when someone stays there…trapped in their pain and confusion.

so what are we do to with all of this?  the paradox of needing connections, yet being able to be so hurt by them?   i think, like most things, the answer lies in the middle.  i don’t think the answer is to never have expectations of anyone and i don’t think the answer is to expect others to provide something for us that they can’t, like our sense of self worth.  somewhere in the middle there, i believe, we can find peace…and connection.

i think to even be able to briefly stay in that middle place, that place of peace and connection, first we must look at ourselves.  we must look at our pain, look at our beliefs about ourselves and the world.  we must learn to love and value ourselves enough that when we do trust someone who then really hurts us, we see it for what it is, and not a confirmation that we are unworthy of connection.  we are all worthy of love and connection because we exist.  i really believe that.  so when someone hurts us, it is never because we aren’t worthy.  people disappoint us for all sorts of reasons.  we might need to examine our behavior in the situation, not our worth, but our behavior.  we might have some responsibility in it.  maybe we need to adjust our expectations.  maybe we are expecting others to be something for us that we need to be for ourselves.  maybe the other person is so hurt and scared themselves, that they can’t give us what we think we need at that moment in time, or ever.  maybe the other person has changed, or we have and it just isn’t a good fit anymore.  maybe that person will always be there for you in a bigger sense, but at this point in their life isn’t as available.  it is our responsibility to figure out who is safe for us to connect with.  and it is our responsibility to protect ourselves, not by hiding, but by remembering we are worthy, no matter what and taking steps to not let people close to us who have shown us they are not safe to share with right now, or ever.

it feels kind of like a dance to me…being in the middle…swaying to life’s music, never getting too stuck in one place.  how wonderful it is to dance with someone…to feel the same thing.  but we don’t need any one person to dance…we can dance alone, we can dance with others.  the music is life…it’s always there.  partners come and go…one might step on your toes…one might dance so beautifully, you start to think they know how to dance and you don’t…someone might like the way you dance, then change their mind, or put you down out of their insecurities, making you doubt yourself…and sometimes, we find others who dance with us in a way that supports us, compliments who we are…someone who seems to fit with us perfectly.    when that happens we sometimes think we will dance with them forever…and sometimes we end up doing just that…which is beautiful, but not the most important thing…the most important thing is that, no matter what,  we keep dancing.

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