Yesterday I found myself, while visiting Israel, sitting in a circle around the bonfire with another 15 or so people, sharing our hearts. It was the eve of the Passover celebration, which is about commemoration of liberation from slavery in Egypt, under the leadership of Moses. One of the deeper meanings of the celebration of Passover is about noticing what is the inner slavery we have been carrying within ourselves and wish to get free from in this year. So we were sharing our fears, core beliefs, automatic responses, dilemmas, struggles… that we would like to liberate ourselves from in order to live our lives more fully.
Very early into the circle I became aware of my inner slavery, or being squeezed into a very narrow corner. Namely, due to specific emotional environment that I was growing up in as a child, I soon developed a very strong automatic tendency to take on responsibility for how people around me feel, and to do whatever needed for them to be happy. Because only if people around me were happy would I prove to be safe and hopefully deserving acceptance, love… This had been a very, very heavy backpack to carry around during my early twenties, and after that, in mid-thirties, it seemed to have started to dissolve… And I started to be less and less burdened with this curse of being responsible for everybody around me and having to save them, in order to get love and acceptance.
Not very long ago I started to notice that this responsibility issue did not really dissolve, but that I only found a strategy to deal with it: rationalisation and logic. So whenever I would start getting this sense of responsibility for the feelings of others, I would start rationalising it all: “…, yeah, but this is not really my responsibility, I did all I could, I did way more than the other person, I sacrificed way more so it is really not on me…” This pushed it all away and suppressed what was emerging, but also took me away from my heart and into the rationalising mind. Yet, dwelling in my mind does not nurture life in me, but quickly starts drying it all out. What does nourish the flow of life in me is my wide-open heart.
So, the narrow passage I found myself in is between the pressure of the “I am responsible for happiness of other people” on the one hand, and the tendency to rationalise and suppress on the other. The first one is bringing up guilt, the second one is bringing up coldness and detachment. None of them I find fulfilling and life-enriching.
Therefore I, for this next year, want to work on finding ways to keep the clarity in my mind about me being responsible for my words and my actions, but not necessarily for happiness or unhappiness of people around me. And to, at the same time, keep my heart open to receive, with compassion, all the pain and sadness and fears and frustration that other people might be experiencing in their lives.
May the clear mind and the compassionate heart find a way to, together, peacefully walk this journey of a human life, in peace, hand in hand…