Focusing Tip #657 – How can we bear the suffering we see?
What do you do with feeling helpless about other people’s pain? Read on…
Ann, may I ask how you personally deal with witnessing extreme physical and mental suffering of others? In particular, the ones that have no voice (children, animals). It’s beautiful that some of us have the opportunity to embark on the path of healing. But most sentient beings never will have that. I guess I’m asking, how is it possible to be balanced and joyfully alive in the face of so much overwhelming suffering – with no end in sight?
I’m touched that you asked that question, and it is such an important one, because as we grow on the path of awareness, we will be more awake to suffering, including much that we cannot change.
No one can change all the suffering. But each of us can make some difference.
Healing begins with our own suffering, because as we become clearer and calmer ourselves, we have more resources to give to others. It helps me to remember this.
The other thing that helps me is to know that people do heal from trauma, and presence is the great healer. When we can be there, be present, it does make a difference.
Along with doing what I can to help, I acknowledge and hear how hard it is and was, for that person. Bearing witness is important. “I see you, and I am here with you.”
Yes, there is a part of me that wants to pull away from people (and animals) that I cannot save. Whenever I turn to that part of me with compassion, I discover that the underlying fear is that I will get in touch with my own pain and helplessness, and it will overcome me.
That’s why the inner work of being able to be present with our own difficult feelings, and to accompany them while they heal (yes, they do), is also outer work. It makes us more capable of changing the world.