One of the most common questions asked when meeting someone whether for the first time or for the 100th time is “how are you” or “how are you doing.” Typically, I have found, we really don’t want to take the time or energy to truly know how someone is doing. On a recent podcast with Brene Brown, she remarked we don’t really have the time or inclination to know. If someone tells us and they are sad, depressed, anxious, or even overjoyed we would have to stop what we were doing to give the person the time and energy to really understand and be the compassionate presence the questions seem to imply.
It would seem we ask a question we really don’t want an answer to too. The question offers up an opportunity to connect with another and be present to their feelings and needs and by extension our own. It would be better to simply say hi. How frustrating it is to think someone really wants to know and you begin to tell them and watch their level of discomfort and unease grow with each passing second.
In Nonviolent Communication (NVC) the question is often asked what is alive in you. This can be a moment of clarity and a time to pause and reflect on what is going on physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can be a real source of connection and a deepening of self-awareness and connection to another. It also can be frustrating and really piss me off. It can feel intrusive or as if a casual conversation has turned into a therapy session. I find in those moments I can get resistant and defensive. Sometimes I have both sets of feelings, a deepening awareness and connection, and a feeling of defensiveness and resistance. This can be very confusing and disorienting and yet oftentimes we are going to have both the ying and the yang experience.
What is alive in me during this time of distancing. First, is I am sad and anguished, not for myself but for all those working on the front lines, all those whose family and/or friends have been affected or afflicted with this disease, and for the lack of compassion and understanding of being shown to those with differing opinions or experiences. Kelli Isola posted a piece that I thought gave me the insight to be more understanding. We are not in the same boat in a storm but rather in the same storm in our own boat. To understand that I can not experience what someone else is going through I can only be curious and ask questions to gain empathy and understanding opens my heart to compassion.
The second thing that is alive is my own sense of hope. I freely admit I live in a bubble of positivity and always look for the good that is seeking to emerge even out of the most dreadful experiences. But I am alive with the signs of hope that this worldwide event will be a paradigm-shifting event. There is no returning to what was normal as that world no longer exists. What affects one has the potential to affect all. I see the world collapsing each day through the multiple meetings I am on. I can be in an AA meeting with a group from SE Asia one minute and then be participating in a meeting with students from all over the country and world. In good New Thought, the idea of space and time no longer exists. I am hopeful we will find a way out of this situation and discover the many ways we are one instead of focusing on the distinction of differences that seek always to separate and distance us from each other.
What is alive is a mixture of sadness and hope. I see a new world emerging. In this new world, we will have to adapt, as we have shown we can, to change and a different way of being and doing. It will not be easy, and it will take patience and compassion. What is alive in you this day and during this time. I would encourage each reader to share your feelings and how together we might respond to any unmet needs to ease the transition.