Just like me you are doing your best to be a good and loving person.
Just like me you don’t like to feel pain.
Just like me you make mistakes and feel shame and guilt.
Just like me you deserve to be felt, heard, seen and loved for who you are.
The difference for someone living an awakened life is not that they feel no pain but that they transform their pain into a gift and an opportunity for growth.
Rather than feeding disconnect, blame and separation due to pain, they lean-in with gratitude for their connection to humanity.
I am very much inspired by the teachings of Pema Chödrön, the wonderful American Tibetan Buddhist nun. She writes:
“When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thins is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered… This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realise that we are never alone. This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world.”
This is a simple yet incredibly powerful practice.
When you are suffering in some way, whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, try this practice as you go about your daily life.
As you see strangers in the street or as you find yourself judging or triggered by someone, reflect on the phrase:
“Just like me they …… “
As you meet your own fear, anger, sorrow, or jealousy... remember you are connecting to everybody’s feeling of fear, anger and sorrow and jealousy. The human condition is to feel. To feel is to be alive.
And as you catch your own negative thoughts or words, self-judgement, or sense of victimhood, remember:
“I am not alone.” Instead of focusing on it being all about you, feel connected to all people who doubt and judge themselves and feel like victims.
Ask yourself, “how is my personal distress giving me direct insight into the discomfort and unhappiness of others?”
The same happens if you ask, “how is my pleasure and happiness helping me see this in others?”
As Pema Chödrön says, when we recognise that we are all in the same boat, “the only thing that makes any sense is to care for one another.”
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