Yesterday I shared a post titled Three Covenants by Mark Nepo on an excerpt from his forthcoming book noting that I would post today my integration of thoughts (my rabbit trail)…
Mark’s first covenant, regarding the work of love with others, states that we cannot desire to change or force others to grow in our direction, and we can in love create conditions for truth and beauty to grow for them, is true for ourselves as well. You may remember from reading other posts that I view each of us as a system of modes of operandi, or management skills, ego states, or coping skills. In our systems we develop ways of handling patterns of interactions with others, as well as ways of handling patterns of interactions between feelings inside us. For instance, we feel lonely or scared, and in order to deal, many of us develop skills to shame ourselves out of the feeling of being lonely or scared. Then, perhaps, we handle that shame with getting mad at others and lashing out with our feelings. Then we feel more shame and shove the (original) lonely or scared feeling deeper, we fight outwardly more, and we shame ourselves and others more. In a way we have our own little management community inside and most people don’t have a clue that is going on in us (because part of the shame is telling ourselves we are unique and no one else struggles with this issue [smile]). I describe the above as being in a hamster wheel, and going around and around. Some of us experience this conundrum 24/7 while others perhaps only periodically.
The way to find healing and growth in this cycle for ourselves is the same that Mark speaks about with others – love and acceptance, validation, and creating an environment of ok-ness (not “reactionary cover-up for the outside world behaviors”). If we can see in ourselves that we are sad, or afraid, or lonely, and honor that, validate, and accept that, then we are creating a condition by which that which is true, can be ok. When it is ok, we can meet that need – change the energy, call someone, write about it, etc. When we are able to honor the feeling, we can grow and blossom. These deep, real feelings that we try to: repress, avoid, deny, compartmentalize, project, or shame are as honorable as those feelings that we want others to see, or the world to approve, or which we want to hide behind. When we hide them then we never can get to our deepest nature. (And,) when we don’t allow ourselves to live in our own beauty and deepest nature, we can never really see others (or let others see us) through the covenants of love about which Mark speaks.
So, in many ways, the work of love that we desire to grow in having with others begins with that same care for ourselves. May it be said, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin (in) me.”…smile.
If you need a reminder of his post, it is included here:
Our love needs to be bigger than our insanity.
There are three covenants that keep us engaged in the work of love. To begin with, when we see something true and beautiful in someone, it is not the work of love to change them or force their growth in our direction. It is the work of love to create conditions by which what is true and beautiful in all we behold can grow and blossom, bringing forth its deepest nature. At the same time, the work of love depends on giving others, especially young people, a sense of safety in the world, nurturing their confidence to lean into life and the unknown—not away from these eternal resources. Still, being human, we constantly slip from integrating our experience to being consumed by our experience. We move, almost daily, from having our fear, pain, and worry live in us to living within our fear, pain, and worry. So the third covenant of love is to keep each other company when we’re drowning in our experience and awash in our feelings, until it all can right-size, until our experience and feelings can once again live in us. These covenants exercise the muscle of compassion we call the heart.
—excerpt from Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster, October 2012