I don’t know why the thought occurred to me, but it did. It showed up suddenly, fully formed, like a telegram delivered.
I was sitting in my office at home, feeling disappointed about something that hadn’t worked out the way I’d hoped.
And suddenly popped up the thought: “Instead of thinking about your disappointment, Tara, think about everyone’s disappointment, every human being that has experienced or is now experiencing disappointment. That ache in your chest? Feel it as it exists all over the world, that very ache in so many chests.”
I thought this sounded like a good idea, so I did. It helped. It was better. I thought about all the people in the world feeling disappointed. The kids and the adults and the people in cities and the people in villages and the people in places I couldn’t image. I felt for them. I related to them.
Suddenly my upset wasn’t all about me – what had happened in my day and what it meant about me and what I would do next and all that. It was about being human, about disappointment as part of the human experience, about all the other pain on the planet, and oddly, the comfort of connection to other human beings in that pain.
I could feel two different movements in this that made it helpful. One was getting out of one’s self, one’s ego, one’s personal story, because getting caught up in our egos and stories always takes us down the path to greater suffering. The other was about compassion. The instruction was: use the pain you are having at this very moment to cultivate compassion. To cultivate connection. To realize your belonging. To know your basic humanness.
Will you try it? Next time you are in fear or rage or rejection or failure or insecurity or frustration, bring into your heart and mind all the other people, planet-wide, feeling just that thing. Be with yourself by being with all of them. Be with the self that is connected to all of them. Be with the emotion itself, the energy of it, the sensibility of it, rather than with your personal story’s intersection with it.
Something tender and expansive and healing occurs.