Tuesday 22 March 2011

Why climbing into the trench doesn't work

"You can never feel depressed enough to help someone else feel better."  I don't know where I heard this phrase first, but it contains a nugget of wisdom that eluded me for many years.

I used to think that by living small - whether financially, emotionally, or mentally - I was somehow 'in solidarity' with friends or family members who were having a tough time.  I would go down into the trenches of their suffering with them.

How wrong I was.  It has taken me years to learn that feeling depressed will never help my friend who is feeling depressed.  It's far more important - and of infinitely greater service - to feel as good as I can so that I can be of genuine service to a friend who is in need, rather than recreate their pain so that we both wallow in that pain.

The twist is this: if I'm not living small because I think that comforts those around me, I have to live for myself.  And who do I choose to be?  It's a question I'm revisiting and, as we can all reinvent who we are so that we embody our highest potential, it is a question that is always relevant. 

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