Namaste You are Your Patient
In India it is appropriate to use the Namaste gesture when greeting colleagues. Bring both hands together and center in front of your chest. Make a small motion to bow while saying Namaste. Namaste is recognizing we are all equal.The divine in me bows to the divine in you. A professor once told our counseling class, “You Are Your Patient.” Namaste.
A couple walked into my office, Josh and Erica (hypothetical names). Josh shares his feelings of loneliness within the marriage. He exposes himself to her. Josh is vulnerable in a way that’s excruciating. Erica shuts him down and shuts him up. She tells him that she’s busy and he doesn’t help enough around the home. Erica doesn’t have a lot of time to spend with Josh because he doesn’t do his share of housework. She’s angry and didn’t want to hear what Josh had to say.
I stopped her to ask her to listen more to what Josh has to say. Josh is hurting right now. Erica offers up that she never meant to hurt Josh. She said, “I certainly didn’t do it on purpose.” Josh purposefully doesn’t do his share of work around the home.
Who’s the Monster?
So, when her husband doesn’t do his share of work around the home, he does it on purpose. Really, that Josh, he does it, it’s on purpose, but when you do it, it’s by accident, right? She proclaims that what Josh is doing is so obvious and easy to fix. Josh refuses to fix it. She says, “I am not like Josh and could not ignore my responsibilities around the home.”
The couple is missing the point. Erica puts Josh beneath her and places herself above Josh. Erica views Josh as a monster. It’s an old story. It’s how wars begin and how people turn on each other. And, you know, it starts so simply too. I am not you. I am nothing like you. And it is, each time, a lie.
Because underneath all the layers of fear, we are, at our core, the same. We have the same needs and we carry with us the same capacity for good and evil. You are your patient. Namaste.
You are Your Patient
The professor when on to say, “You are every patient you will ever have and every person you will ever meet. And until you acknowledge that you have the capacity not just for kindness and compassion, but also for fearlessness and cruelty, until you acknowledge that, you will never be able to start on the same level as your patient. You will never be able to help your clients.
When we can’t deal with our emotions, we treat others like they are monsters. But he or she is not a monster. We get trapped inside of something that we can’t find our way out of and we all know what that is like. Many of us spend years trapped inside our own lives. We can change and no longer feel trapped in our lives.
We can spend years holding onto regrets and wishing that we would have done things differently. Once we let that go, things get a lot better. Have you ever felt at home in a crowd? Like you were part of something bigger and you felt this amazing energy that happens when people come together. It reminds me of hearing the National Anthem after 9/11. When the anthem was sung, we all came together and felt incredible energy.
Despite superficial differences, we know that deep down we’re all the same. We have the same secret needs and the same wild dreams. We walk around thinking our secret pain, our secret joy is so unique, when really, all of us just want the same things, which are to be happy, to be safe, and to be loved.