I was visiting with a friend the other day and we were discussing human nature and the irony of the way people see one and other.
It’s so clear to me that every situation and human we encounter is an opportunity to personally grow and get closer to our authentic selves or to grow further away from our authentic selves – the choice is ours.
In my describing to my friend my take on human nature I said – See him for who you are. – It struck her quite funny she laughed and said that’s just like the saying but opposite. I didn’t understand what saying she was referring too so she reminded me that many a drama filled conversation between girlfriends over coffee at the local starbucks starts something like this – See him for who he is.
It’s so true; the “See him for who he is” statement is rarely a positive one, its generally about seeing the flaws of another and separating yourself from that person. That person is judged for who he is.
If we could just turn that saying around to seeing him (or her) for who we are, the world would truly be a very different place.
My personal way of moving thru life is to look at those around me and be aware of how I feel about them or how I feel when I am with them. The instant I feel judgment I know that I am seeing myself in them and I do not like what I see.
I recently had an opportunity to really use my belief to stretch myself and see another for who I am.
I work with sick horses and this means I also work with very stressed owners. All the owners I come into contact with have some level of anxiety, either stemming from their past traumatic experiences or their fear of the future unknowns – and of course they real issue will their horse get better??
I expect this, it doesn’t bother me I am able to support, understand, listen and help in just about any way they need to help them feel more at ease. The anxiety usually subsides relatively quickly and we move onto the active part of the healing process for the horse and the human.
So when I began working with this owner and she had allot of anxiety, it was no problem, it was almost expected, I felt for her and did what I could to help her and her horse feel comfortable.
What came next did surprise me. The height of her anxiety and the duration was not something I had seen before. It appeared as though there was never a second with out anxiety for her. It appeared as though having the anxiety had become as important a part of her life as breathing was to her body.
One day her anxiety was at melt down level, so I suggested we sit down in her horses paddock and observe how her horse was actually doing. We watched her horse move about the paddock, from my perspective the horse was doing very well. From her perspective the horse was dying.
I have talked many an owner thru traumatic transitions of all kinds, from shoe removal to letting them pass from this earth so in that way this situation was no different. What was different was that each time she would have a ‘moment’ of relief from the anxiety, she would start to exhale, but before the exhalation could even be completed she would be gripped with terror. She would suck in a quick breath with almost a level of violence toward her body and begin shallow short breathing that was hyperventilation worthy at times. Her body would tighten, her posture would shorten and we would be right back at “the horse is dying”
This went on for hours that day. At the end of the day I was aware that she didn’t feel any better or any different. This level of anxiety went on for weeks with no shift. The horse this entire period of time was doing ok. Definitely not dying.
As the weeks progressed I started to feel some pretty uncomfortable feelings myself. I started to have judgment about her level of anxiety and what that level of constant anxiety was doing to her body. The instant I realized the judgment was there I knew that on some level I did in my own life, exactly what she was doing in hers. But I could not see it clearly. I kept telling myself, reminding myself to see her for who I am. But the clarity wasn’t coming.
At one point I actually began to feel some anger with her while watching her hang on to this anxiety. That s when I knew I must carry the same level of anxiety as her and in a really big way, so why could I not see it? It was driving me crazy, I was meditating on it, talking to peers about how I felt, I was looking intently at myself and still no clear answers came.
One day I was feeling incredibly frustrated about the whole thing and said audibly to the universe please help me see where I am the same! And it hit me, like a ton of bricks; I fell back into my seat hard as the realization of where I do this in my own life flooded my body like a drug. I was dizzy with clarity.
For the past 12 years I have had cysts all over my body internally, they appeared after a radiation treatment I had to stop an over active thyroid. When the cysts first appeared of course I thought cancer. Because in my mind lumps = cancer. All kinds of tests were performed and it was concluded that the cysts weren’t cancer they were just fatty cysts brought on by the radiation treatment. The cysts were my body’s way of reacting too and dealing with the toxic substance that was now inside my body. Knowing that they weren’t cancerous was good but the fact that the cysts existed with in my body was a struggle
My mind was so programmed to interpret a lump in the body as cancer that I would be on a daily basis reminded that cancer is a possibility. With that said I didn’t feel constant or debilitating anxiety as I had been watching but I was on a daily basis triggered by these lumps in my body.
I would feel a lump then feel a moment of fear. I would have to remind myself all of the time that I am healthy and to take a deep breath in and let the fear go. It was truly no different than her being triggered by her horses healing process.
To look at our situations on the outside it would be easy to say we handle things differently and our responses are different. But to look at the root of what drives us, there was no difference. It was about fear of loss. In her case a fear of losing her horse, her closest family member who she loved very much and in my case fear of losing my life, which I love very much.
Her expression of the fear was all on top for all the world to see and my expression of fear was deeply buried under my skin. I didn’t express the fear externally as she had, but that didn’t stop me from being aware of it almost constantly which in and of itself is relentless and could even be classified as a form of violence against myself.
Once the realization that we were truly the same settled into my body a calmness also settled in. I felt no more judgment just compassion – compassion for her and compassion for me. I could finally see her for who I am.