Many people struggle on a daily basis to fit in and belong. The struggles, and consequences of these struggles manifest differently, and the truth is in order to have peace in the world we have to continue to explore what is truly meaningful personally.
To feel like we truly belong we have to have courage to be ourselves and realize that sometimes it means we can’t please others or that we won’t belong to a specific group. This will no doubt cause pain and suffering and require courage, vulnerability and resilience. However, when we try to fit in and go against our grain, we also suffer.The more we face the fears we have of being our true self,imperfections and all, we find that being ourselves can be our biggest gift to the world.
Our inherent goodness and worthiness is waiting to be uncovered at all times.
The theme for this year is fitness for mind and body. Wellbeing includes emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellness. All of those to varying degrees influence our daily life.
It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans is affected by mental illness. That means it is highly likely we know someone who has a mental illness. Alongside with having a mental illness, there is still stigma attached to mental health issues, making it all the more challenging for people to get help.
During the month of May, National Association of Mental Illness is focusing on Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding as ways to reduce and remove stigma attached to seeking help for mental illness.
Stigma, adds to the suffering a person is experiencing with mental illness. We have the capacity to understand and alleviate their suffering. We liberate others when we allow them to speak of their perceptions and mental constructs without fear of judgement. Compassion is the urge to alleviate another person’s suffering. When we experience compassion, we also feel uplifted. Reducing stigma to mental illness is important. Having empathy, understanding and compassion is crucial to personal and global wellbeing.
Below is a link to an interview with Thich Nhat Hahn on compassion that I hope you will watch and find thought provoking
Fran Peavey, in her book Heart Politics talks about an experience she had at Stanford University. She was walking on the campus one day when she came up to a group of people carrying recording equipment. They were recording a male chimp who was loose and a female chimp on a long chain. The scientists and spectators (mostly men) were trying to get them to mate. Every time the male chimpanzee approached the female chimp, she whimpered and backed away, to avoid his advances. Peavey says as she watched this scene, a wave of empathy swept through her. In the next moment, the female chimp, yanked her chain out of the male chimps grasp and walked through the crowd of people standing directly to Peavey, and took her hand. Then she proceeded to take Peavey back into the circle towards the only two other women there and joined hands with 1 of them. The 3 of them then stood together in the circle. Peavey says the chimp had formed her own support group.
This story affirms how we instinctively seek support, look for cues of safety and have the deep need to be seen, heard and recognized. Paying deep and focused attention to others allows us to be attuned to their experiences, creating space for the person to feel seen and heard. As Peavey stood there, feeling empathy for the chimpanzee, the chimpanzee sensed this support and found her safe space.
Listening deeply to others requires stepping out of our own constant inner dialogue. When we listen and attune our inner selves to the other person we also reduce the gap of separation of “us” and “them”.
“One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen” ~John Donohue
“There is a force in the universe, call it God or spirituality or whatever you like, that wants the victory of truth and justice. This force will help you if you are steady, humble, brave, and patient. Never, ever give up, however bad things get.”
“The source of love is deep in us, and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, or one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring him joy. One word can give comfort and confidence, destroy doubt, help someone avoid a mistake, reconcile a conflict, or open the door to liberation. One action can save a person’s life or help him take advantage of a rare opportunity. One thought can do the same, because thoughts always lead to words and actions. If love is in our heart, every thought, word, and deed can bring about a miracle.”