It has become increasingly apparent to me how the world desperately needs people who are willing to be compassionate towards those who are hurting others.
Hurting people hurt people, as the saying goes. And yet, which of us aren't hurting in some way?
I'm constantly reminded that so much of the how and why of what we do stem from deep places of loss and grief. So many of us carry the weight of this into our lives, and it taints our relationships and interactions. It clouds our ability to love, be spacious, and free in our innocent expression.
How do we heal these deep wounds? The wounds that ironically drive many of us towards endeavors that are beautiful and pure. For many of us, we create what we were missing while growing up. I can say the ideas of brotherhood and community call deeply to me, just as much as I can say they were missing from my childhood.
Our younger selves are innocent, and in their purity, they often don't understand why their needs weren't met, they only feel that something is missing and the empty spaces yearning to be filled. All too often we carry these deep wounds into the office, social groups, and closest relationships.
Our nervous systems are built to be connected. All too often when we were young when someone bad or traumatic happened, we ended up alone in our rooms, under the covers, perhaps with our favorite stuffed animal held close. This closeness is a clue to our deepest desires. We all want to be with others, to be held, and to hold.
Of course as children, we can't be coddled or held all the time. It is appropriate and essential that children find their own ground. And yet, for many of us, especially men, what we experienced was the other extreme. Instead of having our basic need of connection and expression acknowledged and honored, we were told to handle things on our own, to man up, to not cry. That crying was shameful and not appropriate. Ironically these words often came from adults who they themselves were far detached from their own emotions and tears.
A man who chides his children for not being more disciplined experienced his own father's disconnect. The boss who yells isn't just a jerk; he's also a little boy who wasn't heard. The mother who ignores her grown children's requests isn't just dismissive; she's also a young girl who didn't get to express herself. An aggressor is often just someone who is person with a gun is a just a scared child who doesn't want to be left alone and deeply desires attention and connection.
This isn't to say people shouldn't be responsible and accountable for what they do today. Consequence is very much a part of being a healthy adult and upholding a harmonious society. The invitation is for us to begin creating compassionate space for the how's and why's of other people's actions while also maintaining our boundaries and discernment. To act not only with justice, but also with a soft heart.
This way of being requires the deepest compassion, compassion that I believe only comes when we are doing our own healing and the work necessary to face our grief and shadow. It is only when we are deeply familiar with our inner loss and strife are we able to build awareness and the ability to be with other's pain.
Ironically, when we are stuck in our challenge and trauma, bringing in others into our experience is often the last thing we want to do. I believe this is simply a case of bad cultural programming as humans are inherently designed to support one another. Whether professionally or with a close, intentional circle of friends, I believe the most potent healing comes when we are connected and in breath with others.
The highest service we can do for each other is to do our work, authentically, genuinely. Get the therapy, hire a coach, sing out loud and find your voice, dance like no one's watching and feel your body, meditate in stillness, or even perhaps drink a shaman's brew. Whatever it is that leads you towards your own realization and inner peace. And once we have found enough ground within, we can begin to build bridges between ourselves and others, even when it's hard, especially when it's hard.
I believe it is vital we create a culture, an understanding, that allows for people to express their shame, their lack, their missing pieces in a way that lets it be seen, and held by others.
We all carry tender wounds, perhaps ones still fresh even though the years have been long. Past the brightness of our light, we must honor and welcome the depths of our shadows, and by doing so, we create space for others' wounded parts to step into the light and receive the grace we so deeply desire.