Feel!

An acquaintance referred to a man we were collaborating on to help as “a drug addict.” It was meant to be a catch-all for his problems. I understood in the moment what he was saying as “this man is unreliable, and of poor judgement.” He chose to diagnose this condition as “drug addict.”
I believe this not a useful usage of the term, and is even damaging and disrespectful.
One is not a drug addict, more accurately said one is hurt, scared, traumatized, and in difficult circumstances, and may use drugs ~ in dangerous, and irresponsible ways ~ to attempt to survive. I would rather refer to this person dealing with life like this as hurting, or overwhelmed.


To look at the strategy one uses to cope with life as the problem itself is disrespectful to the sufferer. It says I do not see you, but only what you do. I only care about how you effect ME. It is self centered and self protective. It refuses to employ empathy of the other, or to accept him. It says change and then I will see you, until then you are a drug addict.

It is similar to telling a child in pain “do not cry”, as a dentist recently told my daughter “you are a big girl, why are you crying?” She is crying because it hurts!

Please do cry, feel! I hope she can always cry when things are truly painful. I hope no one’s hearts ever again become sealed to feeling their pain.

When one shuts themselves to the pain inside themselves they shut themselves to all emotions. We only have one pipeline for emotion; the vibrantly joyful, and the awfully terrible feelings only have one heart. Do not crush the pipeline of emotion.


Of course it is incredibly vital to learn to act responsibly and usefully. To feel in full HD color, and to know how to live as well. This is the proper training we must give people. I was recently listening to an audiobook on negotiation technique, the author introduced the idea of labeling. Essentially label your partner’s feelings and they become more manageable. I used this with my son, when I brush his teeth he often cries, I now take a few moments while holding him and the toothbrush to label his fears “you are afraid it will hurt?” He does not respond, but afterwards he is much calmer.

This is just one simple tool from the toolbox of emotional intelligence available, and the truth is you are already an expert. I know you are an expert in emotional intelligence, because every child is an emotional intelligence genius. Children can cry fully, then laugh with their whole belly a moment later. They do not over process their negative feelings or attempt to control the positive ones.


I bless you and bless me too that our hearts be fully open to the vibrancy of life, and that we see others as whole people.

Warmly,
Rabbi Dovid Baars

Be The Rock For Others

The power of having someone to talk to when you are down and confused cannot be underestimated. On ther other hand you must have a realtionship with your own inner wants and needs. You cannot be pulled off your path by friends or mentors’s advice.

The power of a friend is not that they will tell you what to do, but rather that they can settle your emotions and feelings and show you that you can be yourself.

When you talk to others the focus is on empowering them to have the courage to take the next step for themselves. Do not be tempted to become attached to an outcome for them. The other person seems to be asking your advice, but really he is asking you to believe in him. He needs to do the advice that fits his soul, and usually our advice is too tainted with our personal bias to be truth for them. Even if you had the right advice for your friend he often needs to come to it himself for it to be helpful. Be the rock for them to push off of.

Why is it important to give others guidance? We all have a part of ourselves that looks to others for help, not being available as a help yourself is an act of egoism, it seems to be saying I am not worthy of being your support, but really it is putting yourself higher than others. No one is looking for you to be something special, or exalted. Be a friend. Do not pretend that you need do not need that either, and do not pretend that you are not able to be that. By refusing to be a friend you are invalidating you’re need and theirs.

Summary:

  • We all need friends.
  • You need to be there for others when they need it.
  • You need others to be there for you sometimes.
  • The focus of being there for someone is not that they should follow your advice, but rather that you give them the support they need in their journey.

How do you do this well for someone?

  • Listen.
  • Understand them.
  • Repeat what they said in different words.
  • Ask questions.
  • Invite them to challenge their self made limitations.
  • Explore options with them.

Remember:

  • Be the rock for them to push off of.
  • Know the balance of being helped versus leading your own path.
  • Be a friend.