Last night I couldn't watch the news. I felt ashamed that I turned away from the cries of horror and grief but I knew if I continued to watch I wouldn't sleep. This morning I forced myself to learn more about what is happening in Haiti and how the world is responding. The devastation and loss is unimaginable and it is only beginning.
Way back last Sunday night, after taking a hard look at our finances with my husband, I felt poor. This morning I felt obscenely rich. To be honest, that lasted about 15 minutes, but the understanding that my family has plentiful resources compared to much of the world? That lingers.
In therapy, people with kind hearts tend to minimize their troubles by comparing themselves to others. Others usually have greater hardships to overcome, their pain is greater. I suggest that doing this comparison is a disservice to themselves, that appreciating that the pain my patient feels in their unique situation is real and worthy of attention, regardless of what is happening to someone else. I still feel that way but today I'm realizing something else.
When we see other people suffering, our compassion allows us to detach a little from our troubles. That's a good thing. It's hard to be self-centered in the face of such horrible devastation and by stepping outside of ourselves, even a little, we can come back to our problems with a fresh perspective. That gives us purchase to push back at what's burdening us and leverage to lift us up.
So those of us who felt poor before Haiti's earthquake will donate what we can to the recovery effort, pray for the suffering and go back to our troubles with new resolve and hope.
Haiti Earthquake Relief Links: