LETTING PEOPLE HAVE THEIR EXPERIENCE
We tend to be really good at trying to control life. One of our most favorite ways to do this is through attempting to control ourselves or others in effort to make things amiable and peaceful. In part this tendency is born out not wanting to see, or be the elicitor, of suffering and distress in another person. The other part is that it creates a sense of external safety and security for us when everyone is happy. As an effect of this we learn to not fully express ourselves, make things ok that really aren’t ok, not say or do what is true for us, and walk on the eggshells of life trying not to create too much distress or suffering in the experience of those around us. This helps us feel like a “nice or good” person and like we won’t be left, abandoned, cast out or hated by others. It keeps us feeling like we belong and like we will have our basic human needs met for survival and connection because people will like us. This however comes at tremendous cost. Cost to our own energy system because it’s draining to not be ourselves, and this drain on our energy system effects our physical, emotional and mental health. That equates to not being able to maximally utilize your body, mind and life to play and be of service. There are also costs in terms of learning for self and others. When we control ourselves or try to control another person’s experience, we delay or lose out on development steps or stages in our personal and soul evolution. We also don’t get to be mirrors for others assisting them in their growth.
There is no denying that feeling bad at any level of our being sucks. Suffering and distress is not a walk in the park. It makes sense that we want to avoid and move in any direction but towards it. While I believe that we can learn and grow without suffering, it currently tends to be part of the experience of learning for most. Many of us will choose our own suffering over seeing another person suffer. We will mold ourselves any which way we need to in order to try to take away, or not be the seeming source of suffering from someone, particularly someone we love. Even though this seems incredibly honorable and kind, it robs people from fully having their experience. Our addiction to fixing, alleviating or avoiding suffering and distress does not allow people to have their experience, whatever that experience might be. This doesn’t in any way mean that you don’t lend a helping hand or words of kindness to someone who needs it, but rather that you don’t try to control their experience of their experience. When we can fully be with our experience, liberation ensues. We don’t end suffering by trying to manipulate people’s experience of it, but rather by helping to usher them through it. Assistance and support in the ways that feel authentic and true are always in alignment, but it is not your responsibility to fix how someone feels. It is not your job to make people feel differently than they do. Notice where your own uncomfortableness with other people’s uncomfortableness comes in and runs the show of your words, actions and the ways you do or don’t express yourself. Recognize where you might feel threatened if someone doesn’t feel good around you. These are the indicators that you are hijacked by your own emotions, and whatever your actions are in the moment are not from coming from alignment, but rather from your own uncomfortablenesses and sense of threat.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CARE ABOUT OTHERS?
Moving beyond manipulation
This might all create some sense of confusion for you around what it means to care about others. We are quite conditioned to believe that caring about others means that we help them feel a certain way about themselves or have certain experiences. This assumes that we have some type of control over others, their free will in choosing their state of being and that somehow we know best. It creates a power dynamic, which typically goes unseen, but can be felt as a subtle tension in the field of you and them. It may also show up as a feeling of disempowerment, inferiority, distance or uncertainty that is is temporarily satiated externally by another, but isn’t sourced from your own knowing and therefore comes with subtle feelings of mistrust or instability.
What if caring about others simply meant that you are without agenda in relationship with other. To be a container of acceptance and love for whatever is present. To not take anything as a personal insult or threat. To not run or move away from anything and also not fix anything. To not hold on or insist that anything stay, go or change out of your own desire for it be a certain way. What if this is what it means to care rather than trying to make people happy and give them what you think they want so that they feel good and un-triggered, and you feel safe. That, by the way, is a recipe for stagnation, lack of intimacy, and suffering if you ask me. Again I am not suggesting that you not do or say things that are authentic acts of caring for you and that you desire to do, but rather that you stop protecting yourself and others in order to avoid unpleasantness. What if transmutation of suffering occurs through allowing it rather than trying to get rid of it? I get this is radical for most people and yet this is what healing (i.e. wholeness) is. In order to come to know our wholeness we must include all, allow all and be with all, even the unpleasantries that we try to ignore, smash or manipulate out of existence.
You could say that we live in a sea of manipulation of sorts. Manipulating ourselves, others and buying into all of the manipulation of media, schools, healthcare system and such in order to feel as good as possible. Not all manipulation is negative, but I do believe that it’s important to be intentional in its use. Is it used to help one know that one is the source of all experiences? That one is in charge of one’s own self? If not you become reliant on external sources of manipulation to feel certain ways rather than moving through all of your life experiences that are there to guide you into greater self-knowing and self-sourcing.
Letting people have their experience is caring about them even if that means that they will experience things that don’t feel good. It’s ok to not feel good sometimes. It’s ok for others to not feel good sometimes. There is so much rapid learning that can occur when we stop trying to control life. When we simply allow the truth of what is in our experience to be expressed we create liberation for everyone even if it doesn’t feel like it right away. It’s ok to feel shaky, scared and frightened that you might lose something you love dearly if you be yourself and act authentically. However you might also be surprised at how your fears don’t always live themselves out how you imagine they might. The path takes courage and trust that all is well despite our experience of it.
Dr. Amanda Love