I’ve been struggling over the past week. I see myself as someone who is tapped in to what is happening in the world. As a highly sensitive person, I am acutely aware of the pain that is percolating under the surface on a day to day basis. This moment in history is not new; I know in my heart and feel in my body that we have been here before, that people of color and queer folks and other marginalized groups have been feeling this pain for as long as they have been alive. We must honor and acknowledge that if we are going to step forward with integrity. All of that being said, the explicit sharing of stories and the explicit denial of pain we have witnessed over the week has me feeling upset, as a human and as a clinician.
I am a person who works best when I am able to draw parallels. When I can see pain from a different angle and relate it to something I am able to understand better, my brain and heart feel more at ease. I am able to better grasp my role when I understand. Every story has layers as does every wound. The parallel I see currently is the way we are in relationship with each other on a large scale, and the way we are in relationship with each other on an individual level.
Our large-scale relationships are in crisis.
When we are attuned to one another in relationships, conversation is easier, ideas flow, and we feel confident and comfortable. Problems come our way and we are able to solve them together. We feel sure we can solve them. When we are afraid, we go to each other and we are greeted with warmth, listening, and reassurance. We are not doubted or asked to prove our fear or experiences; we are immediately believed and held in dignity. This experience is one of security. Security is the focus of healthy relationships. A foundation and baseline of security allows us to flourish and become our best selves. I want that for every single person. We all deserve to be held, cherished, and loved for who we are.
Problems occur when we shift our focus from caring for each other to forgetting our humanness. We get lost in the words, who is right and wrong, the desire for proof. We lose ourselves in this mess and it can feel like a nightmare. Anyone who has experienced the anxious-avoidant trap knows exactly what I’m talking about. We so desperately want connection and we so desperately want to get away and nothing we do is right. We are deeply alone and terrified. We operate from a place of defensiveness, lashing out or curling up into ourselves so tightly that we might be invisible to others. All we want is to feel understood. To be seen for who we are. To stop needing to pretend, to stop walking on eggshells, to stop feeling shame.
The suffering of our collective is palpable. On a daily basis, I feel the fear, anger, and resentment building. I see examples of lashing out. I see the loss of dignity when we ask people to prove their suffering to us. I see the anger bubbling.
We can only go so long without being heard.
The reality is that in this kind of environment, relationships suffocate and die. We aren’t able to be our full, thriving selves because all of the oxygen is gone, stolen by a pattern where no one wins. Anger and resentment take over and grow. Warmth and kindness are replaced by withdrawal and dismissive tones. My heart breaks for us when this happens. The goodness slips away. We all deserve so much more than this.
This dynamic is happening right now and we can't let it continue.
I’m here to tell you that what you’re doing in relationships with others matters. Please hear the urgency with which I am sharing this with you. Every time you engage with warmth, genuine care, and openness, you radiate a sense of security into the collective. Every time you are welcoming and loving, every time you are happy to see someone and you share that with them, every time you hug your child and tell them you love them, you are shifting the dynamic of your community. Your ability to care about and for others is changing the world. What you are doing matters. Do not forget the depth of this truth, even when you feel helpless or overwhelmed with what is happening around you.
We are here to take care of each other. I have never felt more sure of this than I do at this time of my life.
How are you taking care of yourself? How are you taking care of your family, whatever shape it takes? How are you taking care of your community? How are you showing up for others when they need you? How are you welcoming others? How are you bringing integrity, dignity, and respect to your relationships? How do you choose to radiate security into your communities?
I encourage you to get very clear about how you are doing this. Write it down. Ask others. Sit down with a cup of tea and talk about this together. Be concrete about what it is you are doing to make things better. To repair the disconnects. How are you making a reach to someone? How are you operating from a place of security?
I am so grateful for you. I really am.