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kindness (or love is a verb)

distorted mirrors.

Teardrop by Massive Attack on Grooveshark

“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Plato

In my travels, I have been blessed with the gift of confidence from people. Sometimes they share it over coffee and sometimes, I get emails from people telling me about their past and what they’ve been through.

One thing I have learned that seems universal is that we all carry heavy burdens. We carry wounds with us. Sometimes we don’t know we have them until something or someone stirs them up but, latent or not, they are there.

When these wounds get stirred, people sometimes want to blame the person who stirred the wound rather than looking at what actually created it. Projection and transference happen. It’s human. Like those side mirrors on cars, these distortions can make things look or seem bigger than they are or distort the way we see the world.

We’re messy and complicated, us humans. We try so hard to overcome and keep going. (I love this about us.)

One thing that it’s taken me some time to figure out is to let people take on their own burdens so I can work on mine. That’s how I personally keep from engaging in projection and transference (when I remember, that is). I find when I focus on the battles in my own heart, I am more vulnerable which makes me more loving, kind and respectful to myself. When I’m more loving, kind and respectful to myself I am more likely to be that to others. And so it goes…

It’s helped me a lot to realize that sometimes people are just going through things that I can’t possibly fathom and so, when they aren’t showing up as their highest selves with me, I endeavor to be as kind and loving as possible. I’ve also learned through some great friends and some deep inner work that I deserve that too so I stay away from people who want to throw their battles my way and make their problems my problems.

I’ve learned the hard way that taking on the problems of others is a recipe for pain. I had an epiphany yesterday that I have often felt overwhelmed because I care so deeply about so many things. This makes me want to take on more than I should and keeps life from feeling manageable. I realized that the best I can do is just love what’s in front of me and attend to it. Love, kindness and respect make all the battles and messiness of life much more manageable for me.

I’ll close with the poem Wild Geese from Mary Oliver which always opens my heart and serves as a reminder that life is precious. If you’re reading this, I think you’re precious too.

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

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