I know what I need, so I know what I need to give.
To function in this world, I have to feel empowered. And to feel empowered, I need to feel emotionally centered.
That’s why when I reach out to a friend, I try to offer words that will help them be emotionally centered. That usually means two things.
First, I need to put my friend’s challenges in context. That usually means getting to the emotions of the situation, the patterns and habits that are going on. Life is relationships, and relationships are relationships. We need to understand what others are telling us about themselves, need to address their emotional needs. Police officers usually need to feel in control of the situation, for example, and it is only when they feel in control that they can act gracefully. This is when I talk about not needing to win, about listening before being listened to and all that.
Second, I need to put my friend into context. That usually means getting past their own emotional whirl, so that they can act from their center. We all need to believe that we belong, that we are connected, that we have the worth and value to get respect, that we are connected to something deeper and more eternal than this situation. We have to remember our essence before we can act out of love and not fear.
I need to be pumped up to face a tough, mechanical, hard, fast, shallow and reactionary world. That’s why I try to pump up my friends when they are facing challenges.
Too often though, people don’t see that pumping up as something of value. This is a tough, mechanical, hard, fast, shallow and reactionary world so they believe I need to face that fear & pain. They think that I don’t need to get centered in context, they think I need to get slammed, to have my balloon burst so I can see “the truth.”
In other words, they feel the need to be a prick.
They may know how good it feels to be supported, but people taught them to buckle down, put their nose to the grindstone, become selfless, compartmentalize, soldier on, take it like a man (or the new ballsy statement “put on your big girl panties” so you can “man up.”) Become as hard and heartless as the world around you, denying feelings and just get pounded.
I will tell you that after a half century of being the nail that sticks up, and being pounded for it, well, pounding ain’t gonna get me through anymore, even if it is my own pounding of my own defective head.
I went though this with a friend yesterday, who faced a big system and came out with a story that heartened me, a story of being treated well and gracefully, even in the face of challenge.
But when they came to support me on my story, they just wanted to tell me that I was screwed. No suggestions of how to approach the situation, no affirmation of essential emotion, just “Bang, Bang, Bang, Fuck You, You Are Fucked.”
What a prick.
The hardest thing I ever do, the hardest thing I must do, is to hold out the possibility that others can and will change and grow.
I have to do this, because I need others to hold open the space for me to change and grow. But everyone knows that it is much easier to dump others as unchangable when they are stuck in their own pain, fear and old habits.
I know that people can learn to stop being a prick, can learn how to gracefully and generously pump others up. I just need to lead by example, and to have infinite patience.
But damn, when you let someone close and they act like a prick, even if it’s just old defenses and patterns, well, it’s easy to feel burst.