A blog about our shared experience…

Know Thyself?

“When one is released from the prison of self, that is indeed freedom, for that is the greater prison. When this release takes place, then one cannot be outwardly imprisoned.”
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

An element of life that manages to come up countless times in conversations I have is the things on which we place value. Some things are measurable like televisions, video game consoles, household income and the like. Then come the things that are much harder to measure like service, kindness, intelligence, spirit, security love and quality time. Some of these things can be essential to one’s feelings about quality of life; others can feel essential to aspiring to higher standards of behavior and living. I feel that each individual must engage in a meaningful and thorough introspective search in order to identify the needs one has that can determine where value lies.

There are some whose feelings regarding security lie at the base of what they value, and many of the things they feel joy from, connection to, and attraction to have everything to do with how much security comes with the relationships they form and how those relationships are maintained. Without this, suspicion, resentment and even disdain can emerge for that person with any relationships that form. If that same person doesn’t have a clear understanding about what made security so valuable to them, they could unwittingly sabotage relationships and potentially fruitful interactions as a result of not understanding those needs clearly in their origin, nor what they actually need to feel that “safeness”.

The same scenario to me can be found in anyone’s thoughts regarding what they need to feel loved, what they need to feel supported, what they need to feel like they are in a community and so on. So the basic question is this: What do you need? How can you get it, and how can you convey those needs to those around you?

In a fairly recent post, I highlighted an ongoing cycle that I feel affects how we interact — from individual interactions to communities and nations engaging with each other. Tied to this cycle is also an uncertainty in trusting others to take one’s needs seriously and lovingly working to mutually meet the various needs on the table. Many hurtful things that may have happened to an individual, a family, a tribe, or even a nation can be a major contributing factor to why some of these needs haven’t yet been identified or voiced to those who may be in a position to contribute to the fulfillment of the healing process of the person or community feeling it.

In my travels and my conversations with all manner of people, I see a lot of pain. Lack of trust because of that pain. Lack of respect because of that pain. Lack of communication because of that pain.

Now my purpose in bringing up this topic isn’t to engage the typical self-indulgence and feelings of entitlement that could potentially sprout from it, but rather, to explore the sources of conflict we experience and how we can appropriately respond. I invite you to ask yourself: What is the most painful human interaction that I’ve experienced? What have I done over time to heal from that pain? How have I contributed to someone else’s healing process?

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