Last week, I was in Cincinnati spending some time with my family for a holy holiday for us. On that day we spent 3 hours meditating and asking for forgiveness for all of the souls (humans, animals, insects, plants) that we may have knowingly or unknowingly hurt or caused pain to through thoughts, words, or actions. Including ourselves.
After the meditation I experienced such a sense of lightness and peace from within.
Well, we also had some relatives over from India–my aunt, uncle, and their daughter, Sheila.
Sheila’s in her mid 40’s and has made a conscious choice to never get married. But as we were talking, Sheila vulnerably and honestly opened up about how much stress she carries around in her life every day.
She said, “At work I am constantly anxious”. “At home (she lives with her parents) I am also anxious about how my mom and dad are doing, and making sure they are taken care of.”
She continued by saying, “In fact my entire family is like this. I get this level of stress from my Dad especially. He is always worried. He worries about his brother and his entire extended family.”
My aunt interjected lovingly, and said “I tell her not to worry so much about us, and that she is so sensitive and to not be so sensitive so she doesn’t have to take on so much stress.”
Sheila, agreed saying “I am sensitive, but I don’t know how to reduce this tension inside of me and it’s really impacting my life.” She was on the verge of tears.
I could intuitively feel that she had made a decision a long time ago to take care of her family.
So, out of curiosity, I asked “What did you see happen between your parents when you were a child?”
She said, “My parents worked so hard, they sacrificed everything for us. We didn’t have a lot of money, and so I just saw the pain they went through to make money, provide, and make sure we were taken care of.”
I felt how heavy these memories were for her.
I asked, “Do you feel like you need to take care of your parents because they sacrificed so much for you?”
She said, “I mean…yes. But I also know they are okay.”
I could feel she was lying to herself.
Not knowingly, but her being there for her parents and the stress of that had become a part of her identity. She couldn’t see outside of that.
Literally, in the middle of our talk, she asked her dad if he wanted water. When he said yes, she got up and got it for him. Now, this is really sweet, loyal, and you could tell she was lovingly taking care of him, but my Uncle is very very capable. He’s in his mid 70’s but could have easily gotten himself a glass of water.
But for some reason Sheila felt that it was her responsibility.
Then my uncle, hearing everything that Sheila was saying, said “Yes, I worry a lot. And she probably gets it from me.”
He went into how he has been taking care of his brother for years, because his brother just isn’t capable of taking care of himself.
I mean, can you see how this level of stress that Sheila had taken on was generational? It had been passed down for who knows how long.
So, in an effort to really have Sheila feel supported, I just told her what I thought was causing the stress.
I said, “You are relating to your parents like they aren’t capable. You are relating to them like they don’t know what they are doing. Like they haven’t lived an entire life before you were born. You are relating to them like you have to do it all or it won’t be done right or it would mean you are a bad daughter and don’t care. AND it may have started with your parents, but it’s not stopping with your parents. You’re thinking the same thing about your boss at work, your brother and sister, just about anyone you begin to care about.
“The problem with this is that you don’t know what you are doing is really avoiding yourself. If you are hyper focused on what others need, thinking in subtle ways that they need you to live, then you don’t ever have to focus on YOUR life, what YOU want, who YOU are.”
“You can avoid all of that pain, hurt, sadness, disappointment, or any other emotion you are running from.”
The reason meditating for so many is difficult (although it’s a seemingly easy act) is because, to sit and go within, means you have to face everything you have suppressed from within.
We have to consciously look at the actions we are taking or not taking and critically look at who we have become and are.
I said, “It’s time to realize that your parents are capable of taking care of themselves. They are capable of making decisions for themselves, capable of making good choices, and even if they make mistakes, your work is to be okay with it and to no longer be focused on them but to focus on yourself.
“You are their child, and don’t forget they are divine souls. All knowing.”
“Now, if they ask for your help or you see you can offer some insight or help that’s great, but to keep believing that they are helpless is not serving them or you.”
Sheila was starting to get it. She was also struggling to accept it, because so much of her life was wrapped around what others need and thinking that she needed to save them.
The reason I am telling you about Sheila and our conversation is because this isn’t something that only Sheila is doing.
I watch people, including myself, relate to each other from this same place and it’s causing us to disconnect, not connect. It’s preventing true love and understanding from shining through.
It’s our ego thinking that we are all knowing, more capable, and that without us the world would come crashing down.
Well…I’m kind of exaggerating. But honestly, we are often literally relating to people in our lives as though they’re not capable.
So, it’s about relating to everyone in your life from a place of knowing their true essence is from a space of divinity.
I practice this when I am walking around NYC. I see a homeless person and relate to him with the knowingness that he is a divine soul, so when I give him money or food I am not in a state of pity or feeling sorry for him, because that would mean relating to his life’s conditioning – not his true essence.
When I talk to my younger brother (which this one is a hard one for me), I relate to him as divine, and so when I do offer advice I offer it from the energy and intention of “you know what you are doing, and this is what I can see.”
When I talk to a friend, and they are having a hard time in their marriage, I don’t feel sorry for her. I relate to her as a divine soul, and from that energy give her guidance or insight.
What this does for me is it allows me to connect on deeper levels with more people, because I am not bogged down with thinking I am responsible for everyone.
I am a blip in their life, and however I can be of service to them in those moments, I am honored to be.
It’s your turn.
Are there any people in your life that when you think of them you treat them like they aren’t capable or they don’t know what they are doing? Can you start to see them as divine beings that are all knowing, and treat them with that grace?
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!