Welcome to Mental Space Monday! Where we journey inside the rabbit hole of collective consciousness and submit to the whims of curiosity.
Welcome to part 5 of the Zombie Diaries - Congratulations, you have made it to the halfway point! In a nutshell, we are inspecting the traits exhibited by people who have had near death experiences. I am expanding this to include those life-altering moments that just feel like we have died; divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job; anything that reminds us that we actually know nothing about ourselves or the world around us and we need to re-examine the beliefs we previously accepted as fact.
Today's topic, trait #5, is that us zombies have a higher natural compassion and sense of gratitude than we did when we were rosy and carefree and, well, alive.
Depression, by nature, leads those mired in its thicket-like clutches to turn inward. We are endlessly self examining, we self hate, we self criticize, all of which serves to create an environment that begins and ends with the self. The result of living in this self-centric web of negativity is that even as we focus on others we are worried about how it will affect ourselves. I do not mean to place blame on anyone in this situation. Depression is a self-perpetuating hole and, once in, it takes super-human feats to claw your way out.
Someone who is drowning in their inner sea, no matter how compassionate at heart, may have other things on their mind (like ferociously dog-paddling up for a single breath of air). So when you want to have a leisurely conversation regarding the latest difficulties with your job/kids/spouse/spice cake recipe please excuse us if our eyes dart around looking for a life vest/flotation device/Baywatch-like lifeguard while you are talking – don’t take it personally. While you are owed attention and we are truly interested (maybe not so much about the spice cake) we have other things in the forefront of our minds, namely finding a way to draw air into our lungs.
With my still semi-new perspective from the shores of the depressive sea I feel more secure to lounge leisurely. In light of this, I view those around me with a keen awareness that they too may be drowning inside what Parker Palmer calls the aquifer of depression (in this awesome interview) and it may not be apparent from my vantage point. They may be in the middle of a heated race to the buoy or may have just taken a mouthful of salty water to the face. It is tough to tell from the outside just what each person is dealing with but having survived the near-drowning”, I have found a new level of compassion for my brothers and sisters still gasping for a breath of air and gratitude for the new lease on this life.
The word compassion comes from Latin, “to suffer together”. I find one of the simplest ways to show compassion to those around me, to offer a “shoulder to suffer on” so to speak, is to understand that as they interact with me they may be dealing with their own waves, their own swells, their own muscle cramps and may not always be tip-top. While it is often easy to view our own short-comings and poor decisions within the larger context of the myriad of challenges we face at any given time, it is easy to forget that the decisions of others involve the same complexity of circumstances. Jesus talked about this when referred to the speck in our neighbor's eye and the log in our own. Tolle talks about getting past the ego to actually see the "I". Compassion can help us to remember to look past the speck and appreciate the person.
Part of Zombie trait numero 5 is also a higher sense of gratitude. Gratitude has been proven to be the single most important factor in raising your level of happiness. I am grateful every day that I am no longer trying to doggy paddle with weights strapped to my legs through raging depression and self-hatred. Starting (almost) every morning with an innate feeling of inner strength, capability and wonder is something I never believed would be a part of my reality. And, as this wave of thankfulness whisks me through my day, I am now more conscious of telling others that I appreciate their efforts. Expressing this gratitude helps me to be a better swimmer through life’s undertow moments and also equips me to better offer compassion to others. A small, understanding nod between fellow travelers to say, “I know this sea is rough, but I am doing the best I can and I appreciate your efforts to do the same; we are all in this together.” That understanding is some of the best compassion we can offer.
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Have a wonderful week, lovelies. Believe in your unique entelechy and actualize your wonderful.