I am so used to people giving me their opinion on how I should feel or think or what I am supposed to ‘learn’ from my past, that I tend to tune it out. I nod and agree, and sigh inwardly in frustration. I know they mean well and from their point of view it may seem obvious they are offering sage advice.
That is why I was blown away by the apology I received. My friend sent the above quote and apologised if she had ever told me to look at the lessons I could learn from the traumas I have experienced. Sometimes there is no lesson to learn – it was just a crappy thing that happened and you have to learn to live with the after affects and begin to heal.
I have been told countless times to smile, or fake it till you make it and many other clichés. I learned very early on in life not to express my feelings; to mask the pain; not to show weakness of any kind. Vulnerability was my enemy. Truth be told, I now realise that not being vulnerable is to be very alone. Not sharing your pain, your joys, your hopes and dreams keeps you in a mundane existence.
Dr Caroline Leaf says that when we do the whole ‘fake it till you make it’ thing, we are actually damaging our brains – even if what we are saying sounds good. I am learning to own my truth and even to speak my truth and it is changing my life. I have a couple of people I can be totally honest with and I am so grateful for them – they do not judge or try to set me straight according to their point of view.
It is so easy to judge and be critical of another’s journey but that is so unhelpful. I am learning that love is a better way. Extending grace is more helpful than any advice we may have – it also helps us to grow and allows the other person to heal just a little easier than our attitudes or opinions can. I don’t think we can ‘walk a mile in another person’s shoes’. I am not saying we don’t have empathy but there is no way I can truly know what you have experienced and how you think and feel about it. I cannot dictate how you should behave or assume the steps I took to heal will be the same for you.
So back to the apology – for someone to acknowledge they made a mistake is huge. It has given me a freedom I didn’t even know I needed, and I am grateful. I feel safer with that person than ever before and we all need someone like that in our lives. Let’s be kinder, more patient and more loving with one another.