Have you ever wondered why people only open up to certain people? I have thought about this often lately with the intention of being available for people in any stage of life. Questioning myself, “could I be available to listen and understand anyone that wants to try and open up to me?” In any situation, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me? Right now I think the answer is no, but I want it to be yes.
So why does a drug addict only share their stories with other drug addicts? Why do people in a failing marriage only discuss their problems with others that have been there? Sometimes it seems like people stay stuck in the same place just repeating their issues to those that will support them until they feel better. Even when it seems obvious how to move forward is to deal with the source, whether that is what bothers someone to the point of drug abuse or reaching back out to your wife after she showed you she is hurt. People just don’t go there first most of the time. They seem to prefer to invite that friend over to get high or talk to that other person outside of the marriage first. Maybe because it’s easier to garner support than it is to work on the root of a deep or painful issue? Maybe because it is so difficult to ask yourself what your ultimate purpose is in the situation and have a massive workload hovering over you? Will you always be an addict? Will your marriage make it? I get it.
This cycle of just chatting doesn’t promote overall production (moving forward) but it does produce safety. It produces a connection and promotes healing for people in a hurting time. These are necessary steps to get to the purpose. It would be ideal if the right hobbies and the right people get used to reach this step, but when it comes to emotions and pain sometimes it takes fumbling around to see better.
It’s clear to see that the reason this happens is because the natural hierarchy of needs kicks in. People need basic needs met before they can fulfill any purpose. Your addicted friend needs to feel like he belongs and is accepted before he can feel a higher self-esteem. From there, accomplishments and drive will build and you will see him start acting out ideas and become interested in contributing to the world. Your wife needs to feel like you accept her as she is before she can break her shell and love you back because a healthy marriage is a wonderful purpose to have. She can’t get there without you.
Your friends, your coworkers, the people you laugh at or compare, they can’t go forward as you expect them to until you learn how to humble yourself and accept them.
One of my all-time favorite songs is an oldie that brings a powerful nostalgic punch-Finch’s “What It Is To Burn.” This song has millions of views and came out well before social media was as powerful as it is today. In this song he sings:
“But I am safe in here from the world outside.
She’s the only one who knows what it is to burn”
He would rather stay in his hell and have that one person to talk to that he feels understands him-because she has been there. He can’t grow because there is no acceptance. The root here is he feels safe coming to her because he feels accepted. He knows this person won’t judge him or reject him because they have a connection-even though it may not be a healthy one.
Imagine wanting a friend you can grow with so badly or a wife in a marriage you want so bad but you don’t see it yet. Maybe that friend is kind of rough or you aren’t connecting with your wife like you think you should. What if you cultivated them? What if you accepted them? Talked with them? Listened. Even if you don’t have that experience that’s ok because the root need is acceptance-you can offer that even without experience. It’s certainly easier and very powerful when people share similar experiences but that is just because there is acceptance right away. Can you see them becoming what you want? What you need? Can you point out some good values they have so they know what they have to work with? Can you imagine how good it would feel to know you took part in watching someone find and love themselves to the point where they want to share themselves with you and others?
Challenge yourself today to drop that expectation of seeing everyone around you being a mirror image of yourself. Challenge yourself to ask them how they are doing and really probe into it. “No I mean for real, what are you going through right now?” Let yourself go outside your circle for a minute and talk to an unlikely person. Everyone will benefit. This is a real super power and it is available for any who choose to take it.