Finding our common humanity

February 22, 2021

common humanity and lifeboatsI’m hearing from clients, friends, and people I pass on the street that they’re simply exhausted. The election is over but the aftermath is still shouting at us in the news. So is the pandemic, the economy, the changes in how we work and live. Not to mention wearing masks, working from home, and curtailing most of our usual activities that used to be our stress relief!  No late dinners out with friends, conferences for work, travel is limited. Need I keep adding to the list?

No. No, I don’t, ‘cuz that isn’t really helping is it? My point is simply this. We’ve been working in an alien universe for over a year now, and we try to forget all of the factors impacting our day to day, but ignoring them doesn’t make it go away, it just lurks in the dark like a menacing cloud waiting for just one more straw…

What should we do then when we find ourselves squabbling with the neighbor or the woman who cut us off in traffic? The person who cut in line and grabbed OUR coffee at the takeout window? The coworker who doesn’t turn her video on for the weekly staff meeting and nobody knows why?

Again, getting mad isn’t really helpful or productive, and since everyone is in some version of the same boat, adrift on the same sea, how about we can find comfort in identifying our collective common ground. Let’s bring some compassion to our thoughts of what others may be feeling too.

This practice is often called “Just Like Me”. and it’s a wonderful way to remind us that we all have the same basic desires and needs, no matter who we are.

It’s great for that person in your life you just can’t get along with. The co-worker who just, well, bugs you. The family member who is well-meaning but hard to understand. The hospital staff, the essential workers everywhere working hard and often unrecognized and sometimes a little grumpy from sheer exhaustion. Just like YOU.

This increases the understanding that all others are “just like me.” This practice can also be done alone, by bringing to mind a friend, a colleague, a neutral person, or a difficult person.  Or it can be done silently when meeting someone new.

First, bring an individual to mind, as though they are right in front of you. A fellow human being, just like you.

Now silently repeat these phrases.

  • This person has a body and a mind, just like me.
  • This person has feelings, emotions, and thoughts, just like me.
  • This person has experienced physical and emotional pain and suffering in his or her life, just like me.
  • This person has at some point been sad, disappointed, angry, or hurt, just like me. (You can say these one at a time….)
  • This person has felt unworthy or inadequate, just like me.
  • This person worries and is frightened sometimes, just like me.
  • This person has longed for friendship, just like me.
  • This person is learning about life, just like me.
  • This person wants to be caring and kind to others, just like me.
  • This person wants to be content with what life has given, just like me.
  • This person wishes to be free from pain and suffering, just like me.
  • This person wishes to be safe and healthy, just like me.
  • This person wishes to be happy, just like me.
  • This person wishes to be loved, just like me.

Allow some wishes for well-being for this person to arise:

  • I wish that this person has the strength, resources, and social support to navigate the difficulties in life with ease.
  • I wish that this person be free from pain and suffering.
  • I wish that this person be peaceful and happy.
  • I wish that this person be loved.
  • Because this person is a fellow human being, just like me.

Now how do you feel about this person? I’m guessing your heart may have softened a bit?
Smile.
Feel a little better?

I invite you to add your own phrase or wish for well-being and join us in our Nearly Mindful Facebook Group.


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