What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul
I was struck recently by this proverb a colleague offered me:
"What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul"
It resonated with me and with my experience of my clients of late. So many times what people most need is to recognise what they are thinking and feeling, and to spend some time just being with it. Not trying to stop feeling it, not trying to change it, not being swamped by it, but just being there and letting it unfold.
Sitting with a troubling thought, or a disturbing emotion, or a painful sensation can seem counter-intuitive. In a world full of goals and drive, our usual recipe is to want to solve the problem, to be active and make a difference to it. In difficult relationships or groups/families that don't function well we can be tempted to act decisively, only to find we seem to have made things worse. Our determination to act and our acting from this is well-meant, out can escalate our discomfort; as we try and try and don't seem to change things we can begin to feel powerless, useless, despondent...
So what is the alternative? Rather than looking away, turn towards. Rather than wishing things were other than they are, sense more deeply what is happening. Rather than trying to solve a problem for good, why not just take a step forwards, here and now, and see where that takes you?
In a challenging relationship this might mean that rather than planning out what you might say or do when you are next with the person, you might wait and see, and respond as situations develop. It might mean trusting your intuition, and perhaps expressing what you are experiencing more freely when you think it would help move the situation on, rather than taking a set position.
In my own life, taking things a step at a time depending on my experience in the moment has been a powerful recipe for making things happen. Listening more deeply to myself to really hear what feels right has led me in different directions than I might have imagined. Solving problems in small, day by day steps, has meant things work out in a way where the issues recur less.
Let the emotions come, the thoughts pass by, the tears flow...and take a small step to living a more authentic life.