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So many of us who are helpful, trustworthy, good citizens, caring friends, spouses, and parents shirk responsibility for ourselves by being expert at minimizing our own internal experience. Minimization of pain is often an expression of pride that grows out of our fear/contempt of needing—whether it comes from the belief that I am weak (I will be rejected for needing), others cannot handle my pain (they are too weak), or they will show no sensitivity to my pain (they don’t really care).
When we minimize our internal experience, we dissociate (“reject association”) from our own true feelings and the care that we need and could have. That dissociation can be “rejection” of celebration or grief. It is not relegated to the “bad” internal experiences. When we “reject association” with our own hearts, we abandon the heart of who we really are and how God created us; we are humans in need of being cared about. And when we hide our hearts, we also express judgment towards the person who would know us; we tell ourselves that they do not really care.
How do we know if we minimize ourselves? How do we know that we deny our human experience as a way to keep a distance from our own true feelings, and the fear of others’ judgment, inadequacy, or apathy?
Below is something to consider: What do you say when someone tells you they are sorry or sad about your condition? Or, for that matter, thrilled about something wonderful in your life? The three reactions below can indicate how we minimize our need to feel the truth about our life’s experiences, and how we minimize our need of others’ care.
Minimization: “It could be worse.”
Truth: Of course, it could be worse, and yet what is the truth about your own heart in your own skin in the only life you are going to live? You are talking about your life, not your life compared to someone else’s life. It is okay to care about your self.
Minimization: “It’s a lot harder on others.”
Truth: You can always find someone who has it harder than you do, and yet that is not your permission to avoid facing and owning your own feelings about what is going on in your own life, in your own skin. It is really okay to know how hard your own life is, and to have help.
Minimization: “It is what it is.”
Truth: An observational statement of obvious reality to avoid the experience of reality is strange—like seeing a jet crash in front of you and saying, “that jet crashed.” The experience of realty—the feelings, needs, desire, longings, hope, imaginings, dreams, plans, values, mistakes, response ability, and courage are some of the characteristics that make up living life in reality. A rock is; a person is alive. Out of having life, we live, and love, and lead lives that can be full of being alive. It is our response ability to care about our selves and others beyond obvious existence.
Pain is pain. You and I live in our own skin. No one can live our lives for us. We take responsibility for our own lives by taking ownership of our own emotional experience of living. We do so by letting ourselves be cared about by people who can speak of their own internal lives. I go to people who know what hurt is when I’m hurt, not to people who avoid the experience of the reality of living.
We take responsibility by being “response-able.” Response-able means being able to speak the truth of human experience. Response ability occurs when we use our brains to articulate the truths of the human heart. We need to communicate to people who have the response ability to wait patiently and step courageously into our lives with us, as someone has done with them. We need to associate fully with our own lives, and join with others who live response ably in their own.
Be brave; catch minimization. Be brave; reject not living. Be brave; have a life of full-hearted participation. Be brave; live fully in your own skin—where your grief will be, as well as your celebration.