Do you feel guilty about negative feelings?(DW#732 )
Apr 07, 2020
Over the last few days I have been hearing some version of the following over and over again:
"I shouldn’t complain. I have it so much better than so many other people". "I am missing this and that. But really I should not feel bad about it. So much bigger stuff going on in the world".
This is true. Alhamdullilah. We certainly have it better than many many people in the world who are suffering so much. And it is very good to remind ourselves of that from time to time especially when we go down a negative thought spiral.
But here’s the thing: it is also okay to feel sad about something small that meant something to you. Disappointment over something that you were looking forward to that got cancelled. That you cannot invite anyone over for a barbeque even though the weather is getting better. That your favourite restaurant has closed its doors for ever. That you cannot run out and get something from the store.
That single mom who is also a doctor and worried about her family is not going to be worse off if you complain or grieve – or better off if you stop. And the people who are suffering because they have just lost their livelihood are no better or worse off if we allow ourselves a moment or two to acknowledge that we miss the little stuff of life before the lockdown.
There is more than enough compassion to go around, for ourselves and for others.
The thing about compassion, empathy and kindness is that it is not limited. You do not "use it up" if you use it on yourself. You cannot "save it" to use it on "deserving people" while denying it to yourself.
So please let us not ration compassion right now. Offer it freely to ourselves and others.
Compassion, empathy and kindness are more like muscles. The more we use them, the stronger they become. The more we give them to ourselves and our close ones, the more we seem to have for others.
So, at least for some moments of the day, can we just give ourselves the gift of acknowledging that this is hard for us too?
Can we consider that
All of us can have a hard time.
All of us can be exhausted.
We can all be scared and feel anxious.
What’s beautiful and deeply connecting about this experience is that it is impacting each and every one of us.
Yes, in different ways. Certainly, in different measures. But let us try on the notion that someone else’s suffering does not negate our own.
So go ahead.
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