Why it’s hard to Give to people in pain

This post by Danielle LaPorte took my breath away.

I had been feeling awful about it already, so maybe that’s why.

I’d love for you to head over and read her wisdom on why we resist giving to people in need. Why it sometimes takes extraordinary courage to give.

And then come back here. And even if you know you won’t come back, go ahead over there anyway. I really think you’ll appreciate what she has to say.

Start here when you’re back.

So like I said, it took my breath away.

Like many of you, I’m constantly faced with homelessness. But it’s not just about homeless people…it’s the same when you’re faced with anyone in any kind of pain.

But for me, the homeless example is huge. People with tin cans and cardboard signs knock on my car window, or try to wash my windshield, or try to sell me bottled water, almost every time I drive anywhere in my urban neighborhood.

There’s a homeless shelter on my street, for heaven’s sake.

And like D says, it’s hard for me to actually go there to give, because I’m afraid to let it sink in. I don’t want to think about their babies or how bad it sucks to be cold.

I’m afraid that really seeing them will affect my good mood. Or make me feel guilty. So I roll down the window and hand them a dollar without looking them in the eyes and then I feel ashamed of myself for being afraid to look.

Sometimes it’s easier to doubt their suffering like my hubby does.  He says, “I’ve seen that guy in three different winter coats…I don’t even have three winter coats.” Or he finds the holes in their claims, like “Last week his sign said he was a veteran, today it says he lost his job.”

I know—because my husband is one of the kindest souls on earth—that he only does this because it’s easier for him to believe they’re lying than to step into their pain. He knows it, too.

So we all cope in our own way. I throw dollars out the window like I’m throwing food to zoo animals and he fights with me about how it’s a scam.

We can both stand to work on our courage. Push the limits of safety and comfort and raise our tolerance for true intimacy.

And we are. D’s post has us talking, and thinking, and changing.

It’s not possible to stay safely on shore and also dive deep enough to truly know someone. Not possible.

And I want to truly know the people around me, even when it’s hard.

Related Posts:

Why I Told the Truth

The Woman who Makes me want a Shower

Sitting with Negative Emotion

(And if  you liked this post from Danielle, go ahead and subscribe to her blog. You won’t be sorry.)

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