Finding New Perspective in Mentoring
As I continue to grow and evolve in my own recovery journey, I am struck time and again by how freely and enthusiastically (whether invited to do so or not) others weigh in on what they think I should do here, where they think I should go there, what they think I should choose in this situation, why I am having a good day or a bad day or a blah day and how I could change that…..and everything in between.
The fact is, we feel at our confident best when we are dispensing advice….to others.
But how do we feel when we dispensing advice to ourselves?
How readily do we believe ourselves? How trusting are we of our motivations or our words?
Do we reach out towards ourselves when tough times come, offering reassurance, guidance, wisdom, compassion? Or do we lash out or shut down in anger, judgment, resentment, disappointment and ultimately self-abandonment?
Recently I have been reading a wonderful book called “When Things Fall Apart” by the famed author Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun who began moving into a deeper exploration of human nature, and her own, after her husband came home one day and announced that he was having an affair and wanted a divorce.
Needless to say, Pema was depressed for quite some time. She struggled to find meaning and purpose in life. She shares in her book that “Whenever anyone asks how I got involved in Buddhism, I always say it was because I was so angry with my husband. The truth is that he saved my life.”
She goes on to say, “Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about.”
Through that experience, Pema found a new perspective. She discovered that the self she thought of as “her,” the one that clung and cried and curled up in fear, was only one of the many perspectives she could take when life handed her devastating news.
She discovered that she could trust herself, she could be lonely in her own company and still be okay, she could give herself advice and trust herself enough to take it.
In her willingness to sit in the uncertainty and emotional wildness that followed her husband’s announcement, she discovered that when things fall apart is sometimes – always – a golden opportunity to stop running towards others and away from ourselves.
In my more than 15 years battling anorexia and bulimia, the decade that followed as I healed, and even today as life continues to hand me upsets in relationships, family members’ health, career and personal development, I am slowly getting comfortable with discomfort, and friendly with loneliness and uncertainty.
It may not seem like we will be helped, or healed, by seeking a new perspective that believes in the possibility of peace in the midst of upheaval, but as Pema says, “We can gradually drop our ideals of who we think we ought to be, or who we think we want to be, or who we think other people think we want to be or ought to be. We give it up and just look directly with compassion and humor at who we are. Then loneliness is no threat and heartache, no punishment.”
Today’s Takeaway: As you move through difficult times in your own recovery and life journey, consider adopting a new perspective. Consider welcoming yourself into the upheaval and emotional wildness. Consider gifting yourself with the same confident direction that you so freely offer to others. Consider giving no advice at all, but simply walking step by step and side by side with yourself, exploring what heartache, loneliness, uncertainty and anger have to offer as friends.
Cutts, S. (2011). Finding New Perspective in Mentoring. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mentoring-recovery/2011/06/finding-new-perspective-in-mentoring/