Not so very long ago, I used to feel compelled to try to offer a new, more positive perspective to people who were experiencing pain over conditions and situations in the world – a perspective I was gaining from my spiritual studies; because for me, learning why something was happening in the world alleviates so much pain and anxiety, and brings joy and peace. My attempts did not go over well.
Now I realize that these attempts on my part probably came across as insensitive and lacking compassion. It was not because I was insensitive to their pain, but because I had been there before, and had found what was, for me, a better way to look at it. I wanted to ease that pain for them as well. Plus, the last thing I wanted was to be returned to the pain that I had worked so hard to free myself from.
But I now understand that growth requires each of us to find our own way, as well as the right time, to work through our pain in ways that work for each of us individually. What helped me may very well not help someone else. The way I see the world may be totally wrong for someone else. What brings peace and joy to my heart may only intensity the suffering of others, because they cannot see the world through my eyes – especially if they are not in a space to hear or care about my personal viewpoints.
When I began to realize that my “good intentions” were backfiring, I felt misunderstood, and as if my perspective was being dismissed. Being dismissed has been a pattern in my life, no doubt because I came here with the intention of overcoming the self-doubt that comes along with it. And I think that I am finally getting there.
This is only one of the positive outcomes the pandemic and its relative isolation has afforded me. I’ve had the solitude and the easy pace to process these things internally. I don’t always understand that I’ve been processing something specific until it suddenly becomes clear that it is no longer an issue for me.
It’s amazing how tenaciously we cling to old habits and thought patterns. Even after decades of introspection and work on personal and spiritual growth, I still find these little threads, tied to a life lesson I thought I had long ago learned. In this case, it is the lesson that I am okay, and that I don’t need to take someone else’s rejection personally. Also, that I don’t have to try to “fix” someone else. Because, 1) that’s not my job, and 2) maybe they don’t need fixing. Maybe they’re working through their own stuff in the best way they can already. Or maybe they’re just not ready to take that next step. Or maybe they need to do it themselves, because what they came to work on is different than what I came to work on.
There has been a lot of shifting internally for me over this past year. A lot of digesting and internalizing of things I have learned over the past few years. A lot of putting together lessons I’ve learned with experiences I’ve had, connections I hadn’t made before, which has served to deepen my understanding of my life lessons. They’re my life lessons; created by me, for me. Nobody else has to understand, or even care.
And that’s okay.