Tending to the Soul
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | July 2018
Living is serious business, give yourself a break. Harsh judgments hurt the soul and slow progress.
When emotions are triggered, we seek relief. This is the basic mechanism of survival. We react to experience. Making accurate connections, understanding cause and effect, is the foundation of wisdom. We are not all wise. Even with age, I routinely error in my assessments. We say and do things that cause the opposite effect than desired. Developing effective skills for healthy interaction with a dynamic and changing world is a life long challenge. Perfection is not required for joy. We move through life, tending to our souls as needed, and hopefully, lovingly share some kindness along the way.
Developing the skills is a challenge. We often fear our existence. The social emotions of fear, guilt and shame constrict our aliveness. We slowly build protective walls, avoiding openness and losing touch with ourselves and others. Our souls need tending—comfort and acceptance. But fearing vulnerability we hide our tender undersides, deceive ourselves and protect from the world. Our protections serve a purpose and even sometimes are necessary. Some others exploit, hurt and attack. But if life running from others, protected from what possibly may happen, we also lose blessings of healthy connections.
We must tend to our souls.
We do not need to feign confidence where we are weak. We do not need to appear without fault. We do need to tend our souls, accepting our lives where they are in the moment, and take responsibility for moving our lives to where we would like to be. We can’t move forward from an overly protective approach. We can’t move forward until we take a closer look at ourselves. If every discomforting experience is resolved by pointing our finger causes beyond our control, how can we improve? By neglecting responsibility, we condemn ourselves to repeated disruption. We protect but we inhibit. We need to tend our tender souls—not protect.
We do need to tend our souls, accepting our lives where they are in the moment, and take responsibility for moving our lives to where we would like to be.
If life has disappointed, we must refocus. It’s true, others cause pain; but we often play a role. Did we ignore the signs? Were we engaged in risky behaviors? Most events don’t spontaneously occur but are the result of a chain of proceeding acts, each movement inviting the next. Examination of these chains illuminates several junctures along the continuum where we had a chance to intervene. Opportunities to act prior to the culminating event that caused the displeasure or hurt. But to see, we must first tend the soul, giving self-compassion to the inherent fears.
Many ills embedded in our soul need tending. We hurt, we fear, we avoid. When we stumble over the imperfections of humanity, we are prone to say and do things that invite pain. This is normal. We all live within the realms of incompleteness. These are the areas in our lives that need examining. With attention, we refine our ability to choose. We better detect when to open and when to protect, limiting opportunities for others to disrupt. We will never, however, escape the need to give the gentle and compassionate tending that our souls desperately seek.
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