When we meet a human being in distress (friend, family, client) or a part of ourselves in distress, how do we respond?
Do we want to fix it? Change it? Make it better? Find a solution? Make it go away?
Or do we meet it with a more gentle curiosity? Allow it to be as it is? Listen? Be present with it? See what the person or part wants? Ask what they most need here and now?
The first can feel invasive and frustrating for one or both parts. The second can feel like a relief and what we need.
Of course, it depends on the situation. Sometimes, there is something very specific that needs to be done and we can help with that. But most of the time, taking time and be present with a gentle curiosity is what’s more needed.
If we feel compelled to fix, it can be good to explore where it comes from. Have we made a fixer identity for ourselves? Do we automatically assume that’s our role in the situation? Do we assume that’s what the other wants from us? Have we made fixing a way avoid our own discomfort with the situation? Do we assume we’ll be loved and accepted if we can fix the other? Is there a fear behind it all? A fear that hasn’t been met, listened to, loved?
I notice a voice in me saying: “Make a connection between this and the power-over and power-with orientations. Write that the first approach is more connected with a power-over orientation and the second is more power-with”. It’s not wrong. But it’s perhaps also not so helpful since it can come with some judgment and shoulds. I prefer to leave it out, or include it in this way (!)
Since we don’t know exactly what causes CFS and we often need to take a comprehensive and integral approach to manage it and perhaps heal from it, it’s easy to think that we have to fix everything to recover.
I am just like the client in the video. I know it’s probably not true, but I still often feel and act as if it’s true. I keep working on emotional issues, nutrition, diet, herbal medicine, regulating my activity levels, mindfulness, prayer, heart-centered practices, energy healing, being honest with myself and following my guidance, and much more, in order to see if I can recover from the CFS. At one level, it’s a wise, comprehensive, and integral approach. At another, for me, it sometimes has an element of compulsiveness.
It can be the same with healing from trauma since it’s often a set of emotional issues tied together, and we can always find additional related and underlying issues to address. We may have the idea that we need to fix everything before we are OK and can relax and enjoy life again.
And it can be that way with awakening as well, in whatever way we understand awakening. We keep going at it, perhaps from many different angles, and don’t feel we are OK or can relax until we “arrive” at some imagined place or state.
We may know – and perceive in immediacy – that all is the divine and perfect as is. We are also aware that there is room for improvement in terms of befriending our experience, clarity, healing, maturing, and living from our experience of all as the divine (Big Mind). And we may be genuinely drawn to keeping exploring all of this and deepening in it.
And for some of us on a spiritual path, it can feel a bit compulsive and we have the idea that we have to fix everything about ourselves before we are OK and can relax.
It’s very natural and understandable if we have some compulsion in our healing or awakening work. It’s even helpful. It creates an extra needed momentum and especially early on in the process.
And yet, at some point, it’s helpful to address the compulsion itself. Where does it come from? Is the voice in me driving the compulsion true?
Often, the compulsion is a reaction to believing that we are not OK and not enough as we are. We try to improve ourselves in order to get somewhere or get something we believe we don’t have. We may also have a belief that we need the compulsion in order to get anywhere and fear that we’ll stagnate without it.
None of that is really true, and as the compulsion relaxes, we may discover a few different things. We may find that it’s OK to take time to relax and enjoy our life as it is, and we may find we are more able to relax and enjoy it. We may also find that we are still moved to explore and invite in healing and awakening, and that there is a deeper calling or curiosity that’s not dependent on compulsion, a sense of lack, or (unquestioned, unbefriended) fear.
So the compulsion itself is not good or bad. It can be helpful in certain phases of our process. And it is driven by something in us that’s out of alignment with reality, so at some point, life invites us to notice and address it.
By doing that, we may find a deeper sense of contentment and OKness as we are. And that from here, we are more free to enjoy life and even to keep exploring and inviting in continued healing, maturing, and awakening. We lose the compulsion and we gain deeper contentment.
I should add that if our exploration was largely driven by compulsion and a sense of lack, we may let the exploration go after we resolve this sense of lack. We may be very happy to just enjoy and live our life without this element of exploration. And that’s more than OK too.
This can come from a wish to avoid feeling what’s here, which in turn comes from assumptions about what’s here and what it means.
Or from love and noticing what’s here.
I can find love for what’s here.
This is a medicine for a habit of resisting what’s here and see it as bad. Some tools include metta, tonglen, ho’oponopono, and the heart prayer.
I can notice it’s already love.
This is a medicine for not noticing what’s here as love. Any beliefs and reactive emotions are innocent, come from love, and are love. Also, consciousness and it’s content is love.
I can find myself as love, loving presence for what’s here.
A shift into finding myself as love, and the loving presence it’s happening within and as.
I can allow what’s here.
A shift into allowing what’s here.
I can notice what’s here is already allowed.
It’s already allowed. It’s effortlessly here. Is it true it’s not already allowed? (Even this resistance?)
This can shift into finding myself as the allowing and what’s allowed.
This third option is what happens when the images, words and sensations making up an appearance of a doer and observer are recognized as images, words and sensations, and identification is released out of it and back into consciousness and all of its content. It’s a shift from relating to what’s here, to being it, being the whole field of consciousness. Or, more precisely, from appearing to be an observer and doer relating to what’s here, to the whole field of consciousness and it’s content noticing itself as just that.
When someone’s mythology is breaking down, she is moving from relying on the mind with its future – based trouble – shooting, “ analyze and address ” mentality to relying on the heart, on a radical and surrendered being – here in the moment and meeting what’s here in its most fundamental energetic form . It is remarkably soothing for the client to be met by a relaxed, open therapist who has the sense that “all is well” no matter what symptoms the client is experiencing. Contrastingly, it is remarkably distressing for the client to be met by someone who is unconsciously or consciously unnerved by her condition who disguises that as being alternatively “helpful” and then frustrated when the client does not use or benefit from her suggestions.
It is tremendously useful for a client to be in the presence of a being who does not view the passage as a travesty, but rather as a necessary though painful transformation from reliance on a sense of separated personhood to a joyful reliance on God. In truth, how fortunate is the one who is besieged by the Dark Lord! Yet, t he client’s agony and desperation to solve the dark night will bring up anything that remains in a therapist that is not comfortable with simply “being here” in the unknown and embracing whatever rises. It is easy to become identified with the need to b e a “good therapist” and provide a solution, but this is exactly the opposite of what is useful. Any suggestion or hint at trouble – shooting , any desperation on the part of the therapist about the client’s situation , will further plunge the client into despair . The very mentality she has failed at applying and is leaving behind through no choice of her own is th at of fixing or troubleshooting. B y the time she has found you, she has already tried everything in her power to “fix” herself and has failed. By far the single most helpful characteristic of a therapist for such a client is the willingness to be with whatever arises without any sense that anything is wrong.
This fits my experience as well. The people I find it most helpful to work with or talk with – including Barry and Adyashanti – all have a deep sense that all is well. They have gone through the process themselves, they know the terrain and the larger picture, and they know deeply that all is well as it is. The approaches that work well for me also comes from this “all is well” place – Breema, TRE, The Work etc. (And the ones that tries to “fix” me does not work, and tends to bring a quite strong backlash. I often end up in bed for days afterwards. These include any diagnostic oriented approaches, it seems.)
And that’s also the most helpful way for me to relate to myself and my own process. Meet what’s here with love. Notice it’s already allowed. Notice how it is, in many cases, from a wish to protect me, and innocent love. Inquire into deeply held images and thoughts about it, to find what’s more real and true.
And that includes welcoming any impulse to fix it. Notice it’s from a wish to protect and is innocent love. Notice it’s already allowed. Inquire into these images and thoughts that what’s here is wrong, and something else is better.