We don’t know how people feel.
We assume by looking at them, at their photos posted on Instagram. We make up stories about them.
But we don’t know how they feel; unless we ask them. And even then, are we prepared and willing to truly listen? Do we really want to know?
I am reminded of times when we lose control (not that we are actually ever in control); when loss and grief stand right in front of us. Do we answer it? Are we willing to wrap our arms around it?
I am reminded of times when writing love on your arm is the only way to feel anything at all; when scars tell part of your life’s story – tattoos you never paid for, yet you paid the highest price. Do we decide to look away? Or do we gently offer actual love that never cuts sharply?
I am reminded of times when the years of rushing, doubting and hating yourself slowly transform you into a weak, grey silhouette; when you are looking for peace and energy in a world that can’t offer it to you and the only way out might be a shift in your worldview. Do we jealously point at all the seemingly achievements? Are we able to see that other world and walk that way with them?
We don’t know how people feel; unless we ask them. And even then, are we prepared and willing to truly listen? Do we really want to know?
We need to tap into our own experiences of sadness, anger, overwhelming hurt, despair. We can feel it too, because we know these emotions, these states of being. However, we don’t want to tap into our own box of experienced feelings. We don’t want to feel sad, hurt or desperate.
Thus, it leaves us speechless and unconnected. We decide to rather feel nothing and to avoid the person. It is not necessarily a coward act. In hard times, it is not easy to balance your own feelings in the face of overwhelming despair or hurt; especially if you are close to those going through it. Sometimes people feel like a burden so they stay away.
Yet, often it is our own painful experiences that we don’t want to relive. We are afraid of what it will do to us. By choosing to avoid sadness, hurt, anger we choose to stand outside. We choose not to connect. Everyone knows and feels the difference between well-meant, but shallow words and heart-felt silence.
To actually feel through the other’s emotions which are ours too is hard. It takes courage and the willingness to tap into our own wounds without diving into them and getting lost. It takes practice. It is a practice of courage and love.