Acknowledging what is true and real

picture of sadness and bing bong from disney pixar's inside out movie
Sadness and Bing Bong. From Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out.

I’ve been thinking about this scene from Inside Out a lot recently. Thinking about it, referencing it, calling it to mind. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. If you can, find it and go see it (but, in the meantime, here’s the scene the picture is from).

Anyway, what’s so powerful about this scene is how what Bing Bong needed the most in that moment – when he was feeling like crap – was to simply be seen for who he is. Not be made to feel better (which Joy tries so hard to do), but to have someone sit with him and hear what he’s experiencing. I’ve been thinking about ways I try to be Joy in the hard moments, trying to change, make happy… and how that blocks the ability to feel through whatever is going on. But, if I can sit with something, sometimes acknowledging it goes a long way.

Yet, how often is this what is highlighted and encouraged in our society as a whole? Perhaps that’s part of the message of the Black Lives Matter movement; I also believe it stretches way beyond that, too. Because we want to be heard. We want to be seen, for who we are. But, others try to change us; hell, we try to change ourselvs and not acknowledge what’s really hurting us (to ourselves or anyone else). But when our own experience, our reality is truly seen? Acknowledged? There is power in that. For me, it’s the power of storytelling and story-listening.

Brené Brown has a great (very short) video about empathy which speaks to the power of being with another person in real ways, letting them experience their experience and not try to change it.

One of the things that I have seen (and heard) from my clients over and over in the past year I’ve been practicing is that there is something unique about my group because I listen to them, I treat them like people. What would you own experience of living be like, if you were heard, affirmed for what is, and acknowledged? How might you sit with others (or yourself, to begin with) and acknowledge what is, in this moment? Can you breathe into it, allow it, even for a brief moment?

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