What I’ve come to realize through my life coaching practice….
That yes, we are all different, but more importantly we are all the same.
I spend hours at a time, multiple times a week talking to all kinds of people. Sometimes we meet in person, but often it’s via Zoom. I meet with people who are usually living in another state, and who typically have entirely different backgrounds and lives than I do. They are different ages, have different career paths, and different family situations and dynamics. There are again, so many differences, but there is one commonality that stands out so strong to me every time I meet with someone.
It's this: everyone is going through something and doing their best to navigate their way through it.
Typically, the “something” people are going through is what leads them to me. They are looking for guidance and support in working through something difficult and/or challenging. There’s a pain point that is disrupting their life in some way. Often, they have exhausted many other options, and now they’ve heard or seen that I’m a “life coach.” That intrigued them for some reason, and they had the thought, “Maybe I’ll give that life coaching thing a try,” and so they’ve connected with me. One client recently told me that I popped into her mind in the middle of the night when she was unable to sleep and then next day, she decided to get in touch with me.
When we first meet, we usually don’t know each other, other than perhaps being connected on social media. Despite us being close to perfect strangers, I see the commonality between us…sometimes immediately.
I see the “something” that is causing stress, angst, and fear. The “something” that is causing the anxiety and depression. The “something” that is causing them to lie awake at night and stare at the ceiling. The “something” that is stealing their joy, peace, contentment and causing them to feel stuck. The “something” that has led them to me. I see it, recognize it, and empathize with it, because I too, have had and still have my “something” to work through.
And guess what- We ALL do. We ALL have a “something.”
What’s become clear to me is the importance of recognizing the “somethings” we all have. This very HUMAN trait that we all are carrying around. We often go through life seeing others as separate and our world naturally divides us. It’s incredibly easy to look at others and think they have it all together, to judge, to assume, and to over analyze. It’s easy to slip into a victim mentality and convince ourselves that no one is suffering like we are. I know this is true because I have done it myself. Oh, have I….
One of the issues with this skewed perspective is that it can cause us to be jaded and can steal our ability to empathize with others.
Here's the thing I want to point out: yes, people have vastly different situations and dynamics that cause their “something”, but the result of the “something” is often, very much the same. Afterall, pain is pain and struggle is struggle, no matter how you slice it. No one’s “something” is more or less than yours because it’s all relative. If your “something” is a 10 on the scale of difficulty to you, then it’s a 10. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 3 or a 5 to someone else.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who identifies with my own personal story. I survived a violent shooting. I almost lost my life. The percentage of the population who identify with that is extremely small. But if I described the symptoms of my situation or my “something” …. now, that’s a different story.
The anxiety, depression, and anger. The knot in the stomach. The feelings of loss, confusion, and hopelessness. The worry, fear, and reoccurring question of, “Why did this have to happen?”
If I explained just these things to someone, would they relate? Would you relate? The answer is 100% yes, because we ALL at one time or another, have felt these feelings and emotions. Again, pain is pain and struggle is struggle, and none of us are immune to it.
This has been confirmed for me by all the wonderful people I have the privilege of working with. Beautiful, kind, intentional souls, all challenged by a “something.”
Despite this very solid truth, we still get caught up in comparing ourselves and our situations to others. So much so, that it can cause us to have an inaccurate perspective. We make our assessments based on the façade of social media. We let ourselves be fooled into thinking everyone has it easier and better than us.
There was a time I fell deep into this trap, and it caused me to be a very frustrated and irritable person. It was not until I started recognizing that I’m not the only one who has suffered- everyone suffers. And yes, my "something" was traumatic and awful, but there are still people who have gone through far worse than I have. This shift in perspective caused my heart to open, and empathy began to pour out. I could see the commonality that is so clear among all of us.
So, what’s my point with all of this? It’s to tell you something valuable my coaching work has taught me. In general, we are all going through “something.” We are all doing the best to navigate the rough waters of whatever life has presented to us. If we can step back from our own pain long enough to see other’s pain, then often this can be the catalyst to our own healing. It can literally be a beacon of light. We can begin to take the focus off ourselves and put it on others. We can realize part of the human experience while we live and breathe on this planet is to struggle, learn, grow, and most importantly, help one another. It can take a while for us to get to the place where we can do this...where we can shift our focus, but when we do we begin to see things in a whole new light.
So, I encourage you today, if you are hurting, to look for the hurt you feel in someone else. Start recognizing this common factor. You might be surprised when you begin to open up, empathize, and sympathize, you begin to repair and heal your own open wounds. You may even be able to help someone else, and this is a beautiful thing.