I have often thought about the difference between “feeling sorry for” and “feeling compassion for.” We can feel sorry for someone but it puts us in an us and them mode. We are outside the situation and see it from a distance. We are not really involved.
Compassion is a totally different things. When we are feeling compassion we can feel the pain of the other person. We are involved. We are connected.
When we have been through a similar experience, such as losing a loved one, we know how that is. We have had some of the same feelings and hopefully have come out the other side. This is not a time, however, to offer advice. When people need our compassion they just need someone to be in the same place. Listening, touching (if appropriate), being present in the moment are the most important things.
God uses our stressful experiences by giving us the compassion to help others. Compassion is healing for us and others.
There are some days that “you should’a staid in bed.” This was one of those days. Part of my schedule was to pick up a friend who was having some minor surgery done and take her home. I like to listens to books on my Kindle in the car….wellllll my Kindle had no charge. I popped a small charger on it and left the house early so I wouldn’t be late. I arrived in plenty of time to discover that I was at the wrong doctor’s office. I took out my phone…..which I had removed from the charger in my house…..and guess what? My phone wasn’t charged.
I quickly got in the car and plugged the phone in to call another office to find her. She was only a couple of blocks away. Actually got there on time. She had been given a mild sedative before the surgery which was to relax her only. Wellllll it knocked her out. She slept all the way home. I questioned her about meals and she managed to tell me that she had food. Her husband is 90 something and has a caregiver with him. When we got to her house I had to get the caregiver to help me get her into the house…..we put her in a gown and she immediately fell asleep. Checking her refrigerator I could find nothing that would do for dinner so I made a trip to the grocery to get a prepared meal for dinner. Leaving her house the low gas light came on in my car and I had to quickly find a gas station.
Understand the plan was to pick her and take her home. About an hour to do this. Having left home at 10:30 I arrived back home at 2:30. . No lunch for me.
Long story and funny in retrospect. It just shows that things don’t go as planned. Sometimes we just have to take things as they come. Life is irregular. God, after all, did not tell us everything would go smoothly. He just said he would be with us. He was certainly by my side today. I wasn’t the least bit anxious and just rolled with the flow. When she is fully rational I will share the funny story with her.
In a previous post I mentioned reading the book Tribes. I have noticed lately that I am secure enough in myself to agree or disagree with someone. I have felt that way about the last few things that I have read.
Years ago I read a book about the PTSD that is being seen in our returning soldiers that was excellent. Being married to a military man (his first career) the book clarified for me many things that had changed in the handling of military personnel and that the changes were not good.
In the book Tribes the author suggests that if people who suffer from PTSD were integrated back into a loving community environment that it would be easier for them to recover. I am sure there is truth to this. Being accepted is critical to our well being. However, the way soldiers have been handled in Iraq and Afghanistan has created more stress than in previous wars. I think the PTSD is more severe than we have seen before.
Recovering from any traumatic event causes PTSD. If the event is sudden and ends quickly recovery is usually easier. Any of us have a big physical response to trauma. All of our fight or flight responses are activated with some major physical changes. Major amounts of Adrenalin are released, our heart rate increases, blood to areas of the body not needed is reduced and brain is super alert. This is what is supposed to happen in the short term but suppose you are in this mode over a long period of time. The body is physically stressed to the point where it is difficult to recover.
So what made this happen to our soldiers? In previous wars there was a front……an area where the fighting took place and units were rotated back from the front for rest and time to come down from the high. In the last wars there has been no front and soldiers are in danger no matter where they are. They are never free from the adrenaline rush. There is no place to rotate them to for rest. During Viet Nam soldiers served (usually) one year and knew that they would be rotated home at the end of that time. They were usually away from battle for at least two years before being sent back. (If at all) Many of the prime units used in recent times have been at war for an undetermined length of time. (usually shorter than before) They were brought home and may be sent back in a few months. Some of them 4 or 5 times or more. The time away from battle has not been long enough for any sort of recovery. This information is not hearsay. I have personal knowledge of this.
Having said all of this I know that the writer of the Tribe is correct is saying that recovery is better if there is integration into a community. Unfortunately, for most of the sufferers there is no community awaiting them. Many can’t find a job or have any major support system. Their trauma has also been so much more severe than previous cases we haven’t really learned how we can help. Work is being done but maybe too little, too late.
Wow! I really needed to say all of that! It has bothered me for a while.
Anxiety and stress and difficult for any of us to handle. How much more so if we were exposed to life threatening events over a long period and then expected to return to normal over night.
It seems to me that in today’s world no one is to blame for anything. Somehow the faeries made things happen. Society lets us get away with this. In the US someone sued McDonald’s for burning themselves with hot coffee. I ask you….don’t you want your coffee hot? Wouldn’t you be careful to not spill knowing this? Yet they were at fault. There is always a they.
I wish I could take they along with me every day. It would be nice to be able to say “they” did it!’
The trouble is this blaming someone else has really gotten out of hand. The caution labels on products are insane! “Do not let your hair dryer fall into the water in your sink. Shock may ensue.” I am not sure if we are stupid or smart. Stupid not to know better but smart to find a way to blame someone and get remuneration for our ignorance.
This is bad enough but parents have taken this to heart and their children can do no wrong. If something happened in school it is the fault of a teacher or another child. If my mother was sent a note home about me she immediately assumed the culprit was me. She would listen to my explanation but usually felt the teacher was right. (and teacher usually was right)
The problem is that we are raising a generation who are never responsible for their actions. They have been saved from consequences every time. If we don’t learn what happens if we do something wrong early on then we learn it later….usually with more dire results. They are surprised to end up in jail. I am distressed and angered by girls who bullied another girl to the point where she committed suicide. They have simply not learned that actions have consequences.
We must all teach, from our own experiences, what happens when things go wrong. Science says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Children (all of us!) need to learn this and soon!
When I was growing up I wanted to do everything perfectly. Anything that caused me to struggle and that I couldn’t get right I just quit. I suppose that is connected with some OCD. My father was always encouraging me to try things but if I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it perfectly I didn’t even try. I am sure that an attitude such as that kept me from experiencing many interesting things. I really don’t think that my parents expected excellence in everything and I certainly wasn’t perfect in school. (Due to lack of interest) I just didn’t want to try and fail.
It is really important to teach children that it is in the failures that we learn the most. I guess I never thought of how many failures most inventors go though before they discover what works.
If it is pointed out to them children can see that everyone fails at something. The perfect example is the 1986 disaster of the Challenger space flight. That was a huge mistake and the results were horrible. NASA learned from that as do every one of us when we fail. None of us is perfect. We can learn from failure. We just have to get up and try again.
Today I have been thinking about cause and effect. No matter what we do, or don’t do for that matter, there is always a result. It cannot be avoided. Just how much control do we have over the result of our actions? Sometimes I think we don’t have any and at other times it seems that I am definitely responsible for the outcome.
If we have anything to do with the outcome then we need to be careful. What I choose may have a result that affects someone else. Do I think about that when I make choices? Do I have a positive or negative attitude? It seems to me that having a positive attitude can change the outcome.
There is a difference between positive and negative attitudes. All of us have been with people who are always negative. For them, nothing is ever good. This can really wear on me and I don’t like being around them. Their negativity is just depressing. How we approach things is a decision that we can choose. I can get up in the morning and decide that it is going to be a good day and usually it works. Of course there are times when the day goes downhill anyway but not always.
We do have some control over our own mind. For those of us who have anxiety sometimes we feel truly out of control. It is hard to think yourself into a better place. Depending on the circumstances it may not be possible but that is what I am working on. Developing skills for handling bad feelings is a matter of training. It is just so hard to be disciplined.
Taking control of your own mind is a challenge but it is possible to do. It just takes consistent work.
Why is life today so stressful? I don’t remember it being like this when I was younger. I don’t know if the world has changed or I have. Probably both. Instead of hearing local news we hear news from everywhere and the focus is on the sad, tragic, violent and horrible things. Seldom do we hear about something nice. The one good thing to come out of the recent disasters from hurricanes to earthquakes has been the stories of people helping each other.
I have been listening to the book The Tribe by Sebastian Junger. I have ordered the book. It is interesting to find something that follows my own thinking so closely. If you have read any of my previous posts you know I am concerned about how disconnected we all are. There are many reasons why that is so. People move for jobs away from family. Very few people live in towns small enough to know most everyone. Both parents work changing the family dynamic. Communication has changed from primarily face to face to email, internet, social media, and texting. A lot of people do not know and may not have seen their next door neighbor. Our circle of people has grown exponentially smaller. Most of us do not have a wider community that we belong to. As I have said before this may one of the most critical aspects of a church if it is truly a community.
This loss of community has removed the glue that we need to hold ourselves together. There is no way of knowing (since there is no data) if the incidence of anxiety, depression and related problems was as high when we were more communal. My suspicion is that it was not.
Here in the USA we rush from task to task. People work longer hours and get less pats on the back. We are accessible 24/7. I wonder why everyone isn’t anxious. Maybe those of us who are are the ones who get it.
If you suffer from anxiety etc. try a find a community where you can be accepted and find belonging. I have the feeling it will help.
I read an article recently that talked about intuition. Something was said about how little intuition is respected. I think intuition is a good barometer and we should pay attention to it. An intuition is not necessarily a bad gauge to go by. There may be a compilation of experiences and learning that are prompting it and not just some feeling. It is like making soup. If there is just one ingredient it may not be any good but the combination of all the things we put in make it wonderful. All those things meld together to jog something in our brain.
People who are concerned with provable facts don’t think there is anything to intuition. It is often scoffed at….especially as women’s intuition. One of the things I did as a nurse was to have classes for young children called the Touch Program. The program was to tell young children that there can be good touch such as hugging and bad touch like being fondled inappropriately. The children were told to be aware of a bad feeling in the pit of their stomach. A gut feeling. Young children understood this. Those who reported abuse could usually tell you that something felt wrong.
As you can tell I am sure that intuition is a useful tool. Sometimes it can be wrong but most frequently it is right on target and women are not the only ones who use it.
As I thought about things that can’t be fixed I realized that there is another issue for us.
The trouble is that so much of what we have learned over the years is that many things can be fixed. If we have an infection medicine invented by science may fix it. Science has learned to fix many things.We see science as the fixer. If we have an accident in the car that is not a major crash the car can be fixed. As a people who want everything fixed and with as little distress on our part as possible we are impatient to get it fixed.
Ironically we are a society that fixes few things. If my cell phone breaks maybe I will turn it in to get recycled or maybe I will just throw it away. Most of our small electronic things will be trashed instead of fixed. There is hardly anyone who runs a fix-it shop today. We see things as disposable.
What a scary thought. Just how much of our world is disposable? We don’t cherish things as we used to. We have so much that each item is of little importance. Our solution is to just throw it away and get another. Where are we headed with this kind of thinking?
Are we going to become disposable? Are we moving into the era of 1984 and Soylent Green. (If you haven’t seen or read these do so) As we grow older and are perceived as having nothing left to give will we just be ended and recycled as in Soylent Green?
There is already an issue of the elderly using a large amount of funds for medical problems. Will we be ended so that money can be saved? Already this has come up for discussion. (not ending the elderly but curtailing available medical help) I am concerned about where we are headed.
Are we disposable?
Today someone said something to me that reminded me of a profound truth that I began to accept late in life. Having attended college twice with two different degrees it wasn’t until my 40s that I finished my nursing degree. Working with those who were sick brought home to me in a different way that there are some things that we cannot fix.
I have a friend whose grandchild is suffering with brain cancer. It is tragic and I mourn for the struggle they are facing but I can’t fix it.
Right now I am watching three hurricanes in the Atlantic that could devastate some people already hit by another storm. I can’t fix it. I wish I could. I really want to.
We expect everything to continue just exactly the way we want and we are gobsmacked by something that we can’t fix.
While nursing I did learn that things that can’t be fixed can usually be helped in some way. The sick child still has cancer but thanks to medicine he is better (not cured) and has many people helping him and others with financial and emotional support.
The last hurricane has shown that it could not be stopped but many people have put their lives on hold to help. What was amazing to me was to see linemen from Houston here in Savannah helping to restore power to us. They were “paying it forward.”
I have learned that we can’t dwell on the fact that it can’t be fixed but instead concentrate on what is possible to do to help. That way we give of ourselves…….the most precious thing that we can give.
Understand there are things that can’t be fixed but we can help the unendurable be endured.