Saturday, August 22, 2015

You Might be in for a Surprise

Someone I know is facing some significant, serious news. She is greatly challenged in many ways, just like I am.
She is also questioning a lot of things, like God, and her faith.

There is so much that she is facing that I can identify with. There is so much that comes up from others that I can also appreciate.

The other day a very well-meaning friend wrote her to ask what she was grateful for. Anyone who has ever dealt with a major crisis only to hear that from someone who does not truly understand knows this is a less than ideal approach/question.

For starters, there can be many things one can be grateful for, but in the midst of the immediacy of the things that are happening in the moment that suck, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a well-meaning perspective shift through a question like this.

Imagine you have spent 30 plus years of your life walking, but then had great difficulty doing what came naturally all that time. Sure you could be grateful you still had your legs, that you had the use of your arms, that you were "alive" (a "good," and frequent point presented by many), that you had someone who could help you, and more...

You could be grateful for all those things, but it doesn't change the fact that your legs don't do what they once did, how they once did. That also means that you can't do what you once did, how you once did.

Being grateful has nothing to do with what is lacking. In some ways, I think it is an attempt at a coping mechanism or a fix it. Often those things try to give us other things to focus on. And if we fail to focus on the "better" thing, then that is why we are so miserable. It is our fault. After all, everyone knows that focus is "everything." Everyone knows it is the Magic Wand. Right?

I do not ever know what "the" answer is when it comes to this stuff. I imagine some good can come out of a perspective shift, but I am not sure it comes from an outsider's well-meaning attempts to artificially stimulate that shift. 

I also believe that on some level there is a portion of the answer that involves facing a situation AS IT IS ... AS SUCKY AS IT IS.

What is the first thing we do when someone disagrees with us about someone or something? We are likely to dig in, defending what we believe. We don't suddenly go, "Oh, yes. You are so right. I was so wrong. Everything changes now. Thank you for the enlightenment." 

It doesn't work that way. If an alternative perspective is likely to work, it will
probably be because you were willing to see things first as another sees them. And then, and perhaps only then, might you be able to have them see the things the way you do.

But. The "funny" thing is that if you actually took the time and effort to understand where another stands, and why, you might be less inclined to believe what you do.

There are no easy answers or solutions to much of the crap that shows up in life, but that doesn't doesn't stop us from trying to treat the equivalent of gaping wounds with band-aids - at least, often when it comes to other people.

When it comes to us, we might need our scratch to be treated like a gaping wound. And the fact is, it just might be a lot more than we think it is, or what we think we see (and that goes for anyone, although we are often less likely to see it in regard to another).

A person's experience is valid to them. And I think we need to stop invalidating others, in some part (at least at times), to make ourselves feel better. 

When my friend told me about the "grateful" email, I asked her if she told her  friend, "Did you tell her you were grateful you could tell her to f*ck off?"

Of course, she'd never do that, and of course, I did not mean it. However, she totally knew I was with her reaction, given mine - at least, after she knew I wasn't being serious.

Those dealing with things often have to be so polite and tactful to many well-meaning people who haven't been taught how ineffective - and sometimes painful - many things said are. Unfortunately the alternatives seem to suck that much more. As sucky as they are though, I suspect they are closer to an effective way of dealing with something than the things we have been taught/think we know. 

Despite what others might believe, I suspect allowing for what is also allows one to move on a bit quicker - and maybe even a lot quicker - than trying to force oneself to go against the tide. At least, that has been my experience.

Don't know if you should believe me? Consider trying it out. If you are often inclined to "help" others by negating their experience ("stay positive!") stop doing it - and see what happens. You might be in for a surprise.

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