Facing what we find when the tide goes out
With so much information available to us now at the touch of a button, it’s easy to think that ‘we know.’ This attitude will actually jam our whole process of relating. Much of what we know of ourselves was what we were told; it was learnt behaviour. And if we stop and look at our relational patterns, we can see what ways we’ve been taught. We can affirm and continue in those patterns or we can choose to change them. It’s like we’ve been given a room to live in which is full of another person’s taste in furnishings. We can leave it as it is for security’s sake or we can make it our own while keeping some of the things that are ‘us’.
We often avoid our hurt and keep our interactions and feelings ‘nice’ and covered over. Or, we might blame others for what we haven’t been able to deal with ourselves. It may work for a while, but it’s only a matter of time before the tide goes out and all the scrap on the bottom of the marina is exposed.
The trouble with comparing ourselves with others is that sharing our successes doesn’t connect us, it separates us. When we risk sharing our real selves, our pain and struggles, we find a deep human connection if they are heard and received. Often, we don’t even need advice; just the validation of our story through emotionally available others can give us the insight and strength to move forward.
We so need each other to ‘earth’ our feelings. As our feelings are acknowledged and heard, we become. This acknowledgement is important, because if we express a feeling and no one else understands or receives it, we can feel that there is something wrong with us, that we don’t belong, or that we’re going ‘crazy’. However, when our feelings are authenticated, we develop our own inner authority and can say, like Martin Luther, ‘Here I stand.’
Every new situation gives us a new feeling – different and new combinations of our known feelings. Saying ‘I know’ of ourselves and others shuts us down. The invitation is to keep going into the larger, unknown parts – those that are not yet familiar to us. This means that we have to stay open, full of wonder and to believe there is always more to discover about ourselves and others. The essence of knowing is to realise that we don’t yet know everything about ourselves and others; to be like a child and look again.
It’s a lifelong and exciting journey of discovery. As we refuse to be deadened by societal constraints, we become real. We are each worth knowing and as we see the unique wonder of ourselves and fall in love, we’re able to give this precious gift of our life to others in our community. It’s well worth the risk.