Self-Care

Wild Geese + Loneliness

 

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Wild Geese

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 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.

© Mary Oliver

I cried the very first time I read that poem.  And the second time I read it I cried again.  Mary Oliver described me perfectly with this poem, as I am sure she has described many; we share the deep, sharp emotions that are evoked with this piece when we experience life from a deep, sharp, sensory-rich place.

And whenever we are lonely, whenever we feel an isolated sadness *even while in the company of others*, never forget… Never Forget… the world offers itself to our imagination.  We can be as content, as loved, as supported, as connected and as deeply held as we desire.

I received an email from a young man last week… I’ll call him “J”.   He says he is a single male in his mid thirties, and he feels that nothing is going his way.  He has a job, but is making less money than he is accustomed to, and he has no house of his own, not married, no girlfriend, and even though he tries really hard to be happy, he is always sad.  His question to me was, “How can I be happy and improve my life?”

And, while I normally don’t respond to emails of this nature, because really, how could I possibly help him?  Spout off a lot of “silver lining” advice or encourage him to trust in a higher power?  Sure, I could do that, but I don’t want to.

However, I do want him to know that he has been heard, I acknowledge his sadness, and I want him to know he is not alone.  I have also been in a place where I tried really hard to be happy, but I knew something was missing.  I also tried to find it outside of myself… in another person… even though I knew that was impossible (and made for unhealthy relationships).

I feel lots of compassion for J and others like him.  And I can share something that I have learned from my own experience, because really, all we can share with authenticity is what we know.

Love + Compassion

If you are lonely, if you feel that no one cares, if you feel that you are missing deep connection, then do something for someone else.  Go spend time with animals in a shelter.  Go visit people in the nursing home.  Get out of your house and do something for a neighbor.  Get involved with a program that feeds the homeless.  Basically, when you are lonely and lacking connection, the act of helping another being dramatically reduces that lonely feeling.

When you give compassion and love, you are “living” that connection that you want someone to offer you.

I am going to tell you something that I will believe with every little piece of my DNA for the rest of my life:

If you want someone to entertain you, love you, show you attention, complete you, BE with you, blah blah blah, you will never ever ever be satisfied.  Because No one can ever fill your empty places.  I don’t care how cute, how smart, how giving how *fill in the blank* that person is.  You take care of your own business.  You fill those empty places yourself.  Take responsibility for your own happiness.  Because no one else will Ever be able to completely satisfy you.  I promise this.  And I love you enough to say it.

Take this information and make a decision today to fall madly, deeply and irrevocably in love with yourself.

You’ll have people jockeying for position to be near you in no time.

But first, you have to do your inner work.

Now, go live it.  I believe in you.

~Dana

Self-Care

Support Partner

Bindweed

 

Be very very careful about getting into someone else’s business.

And be very very careful about whom you let into your business.

When we are involved in someone else’s business, we are not living in our own space… we are living and acting and reacting from theirs.  When we analyze others’ issues, we are not living in our own reality.  We are distracting ourselves with their life material (often because we don’t want to deal with what’s in our own lives).  *that was tough to say, but I had to both say it and own it.*

What we need (and what we need to become for another) is a “Support Partner“.  We don’t need 20 of them; only one or two close friends that we can exchange with in a non-analytical and non-judgmental way.

This is what “support partner” is.

1.  A support partner is fully present with you, listens to you objectively and without judgment, and holds supportive emotional space for you.

2.  A support partner has an agreement with you around these clear and loving boundaries and roles, and does not deviate from them.

3.  A support partner keeps your personal life private.  Period.  Period.

4.  A support partner comforts you and allows you to have your feelings without “fanning emotional flames”.  You probably shouldn’t select them as support partners if they tend to say, “Hell yeah, let’s go cut his tires!”, okay?  Those friends are fun, but they’re not who we are talking about here.

5.  A support partner knows that YOU know it is your responsibility to make decisions and changes in your life.  Therefore, it is not your support partner’s job to tell you what to do, to tell you that your life sucks and here’s how to fix it, etc.

6.  This is not a club to join.  This is a relationship that is cultivated with one person.   I mean it.  The more ain’t merrier with this relationship.

Here’s how to develop an awesome Support Partner relationship:

1.  Connect with your friend (the one you trust to be non judgmental, compassionate, and knows how to keep her mouth shut and her comments to herself).

2.  Talk to that person about what a Support Partner is and extend an invitation to be in a supportive relationship with you.  When your partner is in need, you get the call/text/email asking for a chat time.  When you are in need, you send a call/text/email asking for a chat time.

3.  Schedule the time to practice the concepts below.  Make sure that both you and your support partner are in an emotional space where you can be fully present with each other.  Also, be aware that a support partner does not have a revolving door.  Respect each other’s time and schedules for the best possible relationship.

And, on a gentle note, until you can give this courtesy in return, please don’t initiate this relationship with another.

Here’s how to become a support partner:

Practice a willingness to listen instead of speak. Practice a willingness to hear something that maybe you cannot understand because it is not your lived experience. Practice a willingness to be respectful of concepts, lifestyles, identities, and beliefs outside of your own.

Cultivate the ability to put your needs, desires, beliefs, deficiencies, excesses, and perspectives aside, and listen. Just listen. Hold non judgmental emotional space for your partner to present all of themselves in that moment.

Basically you are listening with full attention and with gentle compassion and acceptance. Refrain from thinking up a response while your partner is speaking. Not only are you holding space for what is beings said, but you’re also holding a container for big emotions. When you are distracted with what to say next, you are not communicating to your partner that you are present and listening.

Your job is not to fix their shit. Your job is to hear them, accept them, and tell them that they are loved. Maybe you can normalize their experience by telling them you understand, and that you had a similar experience, but try to keep the conversation about them.

One of the most healing things we can give another person is the gift of being witnessed and accepted.

Make sure that this relationship is not one sided. Your support partner should feel just as much safety coming to you for support as you feel when you reach out to them. If there’s an imbalance in this area, you may not be in “right relationship” with each other. This relationship is always growing and changing. Be willing to make adjustments in order to respect and strengthen your partnership.

May you develop beautiful, trustworthy, life enriching relationships.

~Dana

 

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  ~Mahatma Gandhi