I was listening to a friend tell me her story about losing something on the subway: she’d been tired after a long day and was on the train during rush hour. It was jam packed … she was lucky to get a seat. When she got that seat, she put her backpack on the ground between her feet, her groceries on top of her backpack, thinking they’d both be safe, and started looking through her saved messages.
When it came time to get off, she had to grab everything and push her way through the crowd before the doors closed. It wasn’t till she got home that she realized her groceries weren’t with her.
What happened to them? How did she manage to pick up her backpack and not her groceries? Did someone take them or were they knocked off in the race to the door?
My friend was upset and relieved it wasn’t her backpack. She felt like a fool, realizing she’d taken a chance by not paying attention to her surroundings, and not being ready when the train was approaching her stop. She was soundly berating herself by the time we talked.
As it turns out, I was a good one for her to call, because I understood everything she said. I understood the exhaustion, the need to disappear into my messages or a book, the sense of shock and imbalance over missing something that should be with me, and then the self-punishment. I even understood her suspicion that someone took the bag, even though there was nothing that expensive in it.
I felt what she felt.
This isn’t always true. Have you ever found yourself comforting a friend over a loss you’ve never had? It’s awkward; you don’t really know what to say, so you end up saying something you know is stupid, like “It’s alright, I understand”.
Well, you don’t really understand, and you know it. But you could imagine what it would be like to have something like that happen to you. You can feel that event, even though it’s imaginary. We all can – that’s why we love stories and novels and movies about people who have adventures we’ve never had.
I was wondering how I would have responded to my friend if I hadn’t been through her own story, and realized I didn’t have to be. I simply had to be open to imagining it, and letting her know that’s what I was doing.
Honesty. The best medicine.
Understanding is a power to shape the world – Larry Rosen
Quote of the Week
General benevolence, but not general friendship, make a man what he ought to be.
― Jane Austen, Emma
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programsor contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .