Hi! How are you? Fine. And you?
How often do we begin our conversations in this traditional way? And, how often do we answer “fine”, when perhaps we don’t feel so fine. It’s not to say when every person asks how we are, that we blurt out all our life’s challenges, but how many of us find a community of friends where it is safe to speak regularly about not only our successes, but also what is difficult for us?
I find there has been so much focus on positive thinking that there often is an assumption that being authentic is sharing only the upside of our lives. When I first began my journey of self-development, I felt that to disclose my “less than positive feelings” in my life was to show inadequacy or a failing on my part. It felt guilty, shameful and embarrassing. But I also found that if I remained exclusively within the parts of myself that focused on the positive side, I felt something was missing – I didn’t feel whole.
Over time, I realized that if I acknowledged and worked through the not so pleasant parts of myself, that the feeling of not being whole subsided. I saw the positive thinking part had become a block to healing from the very real issues that were restricting me. It contributed to the notion that I was alone with my pain. As I began to share I found the opposite to be true-that others face the same challenges that I do. Sharing openly freed up a flow of compassion, love, understanding and deeper relationship with those around me.
I met a friend for coffee a short time ago. I asked how he was. His Mom has cancer and he began to talk about all his feelings to me. Encapsulated in his dialogue were many parts. There was a part of him who was feeling the shock of the potentially premature death of his Mom, and a very sad part who was in grief. There was a part that showed strength and pride in the person she is. Then, a shift to a charged part who was upset his Mom was never valued for her life’s contributions. As the conversation shifted again, he talked about connection to family and how Mom was the centre that brought together the community of family. Silence prevailed as we reflected. When he looked at me there was a glow in his eyes…he talked about a part of him who had a sense of her spirit within and around him, regardless of the distance between them.
I felt honored to be present for my friend. To be witness to the depth of whom he is in his totality as a human being. To see the waves of many emotions pass through, allowing his whole Self to be seen by me.
How healed could the world become if we all had the strength of character as this man showed? Sharing the depths of his emotions, instead of suffering silently, and finding sanctuary in authentic communication where he could release the burden that too many of us carry.
I have learned that it is within the wholeness of who we are that the positive part may be fully realized.