I’ve already written about how empathy and releasing blame can bring healing and peace to ourselves and others. That said, there are times that call for gentleness, and times that call for ferocity and strength.
Especially in this political climate we live in, empathy has become dangerous–because it’s too easy to collapse empathy with passivity, complacency, and inaction.
And the stakes are way too high to leave ourselves unprotected.
So let’s talk about what it means to be strong and compassionate. It’s something that, quite honestly, has taken me a long time to come to personally. But learning how to strike that balance–how to be fierce, and strong, and willing to take a stand, without losing my sense of love and integrity–has been, and continues to be, one of the most healing discoveries of my life.
My son Kendrick is about to turn 2 this Sunday, so I dedicate this story to him.
My own growth and healing always help me become a better mom. But just as often, the reverse happens. Learning how to take care of a child teaches me how to take care of me, too.
In one of my favorite books on mindfulness, No Mud, No Lotus, Thich Nhat Hahn uses motherhood as a model for how to handle suffering. He says:
“Suffering is a hurt child crying out to us…. The work of mindfulness is first to recognize the suffering and second to embrace it. A mother taking care of a crying baby naturally will take the child into her arms without suppressing, judging it, or ignoring the crying. Mindfulness is like that mother, recognizing and embracing suffering without judgment.”
— Thich Nhat Hahn, No Mud, No Lotus
Reading this, I knew I was already doing this with Kendrick, all the time. In fact, these times, especially when they happen between midnight and 4am, have become some of my most precious moments with him. (No, really.)
I had another article I wrote to share this week, and I’m still posting it today. But after last night’s presidential election results, which were devastating to myself and so many people I know, I had to address it here and now.
Dearest friends and fellow “woke” folks: We have a big problem. And (as gently and as kindly as I can), I must tell you that we are a part of that problem.
Though our society says that no crime should go unpunished, that when we make our bed, we must then lie in it, and that strength comes from “sucking it up, buttercup,” I’m going to advocate for something radical:
Self-blame stops us from taking responsibility for our actions.
This idea seemed crazy to me as recently as 6 months ago. At that time, I was all about the self-blame.