What’s mine, what’s ours

We prolong our difficulties and our sense of separation from other people when we take our own suffering to be ours alone.

Yes, of course, your disappointment, your shame, your grief and your frustration are very particular. They show up in your body, in your life, in a way that’s not quite the same as for anyone else.

But, at the same time, it’s the case that disappointment, shame, grief and frustration are a universal part of the human condition, arising from the kind of body and evolutionary history we all share. And we’re disappointed, ashamed, grief-stricken and frustrated because we’re human.

In this way your shame is an expression of the shame that comes with being alive. As is your heartbreak, your rage, your confusion, your longing.

When we start to know our suffering as the¬†suffering we feel less alone. But not only that. We find ourselves more understanding of the suffering of others and more willing to respond. And we find out that, however compelling are the stories of our aloneness, we’re all in this together.

Photograph by Justin Wise