Wednesday 15 August 2018

Not to Punish but to Understand

Sometimes it happens that you read or hear or experience something so sharp, so surprising, so out of left field, so TRUE that it stops you in your tracks. That’s what happened the other day when I came across this quote on social media.

Imagine meeting someone who wanted to learn your past not to punish you, but to understand how you needed to be loved. (Author unknown)

There is personal relevance in the words, for me and others in my life right now. But that’s not what I want to write about. What I want to explore — and I am writing as much for me as for you, dear reader — is why it would ever be otherwise. Why are those lines so shocking? Ought not every person we meet — certainly every person we allow in close — approach us in such a way?

Perhaps. Well, yes, in fact. But for a whole heap of reasons silence and stigma and shame remain powerful forces in society at large and in the smaller, more immediate communities in which we live out our lives. Wherever we meet — in our families, schools, colleges, places of work and of worship — the response to us, to our stories and histories, so often falls short of the caring curiosity for which we yearn.

Sadder still, we punish ourselves for what we have done or said, or failed to do or failed to say; the times we believe we have let ourselves or others down. How rarely do we approach ourselves with compassion?

What would it feel like if we did? How would it feel to explore our own stories wanting not to punish but to understand how we need to be loved?


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