Last night I saw a profound and quiet documentary about the life of Fred Rogers. That’s right, from the television show “Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood”. I say ‘quiet’ because if you ever watched the program, it was not full of special effects, loud noises, fights and explosions. It was a quiet and thoughtful and, as I found out, as deep as the man who created it. Fred Rogers was a quiet, passionate, tireless and dedicated advocate for children and peace. Who knew?
His passion was born out of his own childhood hurts from being ill a lot and quarantined. I gather he felt misunderstood, alone, and not taught to feel and express his own feelings. In other words, he was a child ‘not seen and heard’.
So, ‘seeing’ children, making eye contact, letting them express and feel their feelings became his mission.
It made me think of how we process and transform our own trauma into meaning. Yes, if you survived childhood as a human you came away with a few scars. It turns out, that suffering is a part of life. It’s what we do with it that matters.
We don’t have to start a television show. We don’t have to change the world.
But, when we can accept and acknowledge and move through the patterns and emotions that still arise without pushing away, resisting and avoiding, life does become easier. It can take time, and perhaps the help of a trusted friend or therapist, but it is always possible.
In fact, that can be where our strength lies. In the very thing we spend our lives avoiding.
In a groundbreaking study by Stanford researcher Dr. Kelly McGonigal in her book “The Upside of Stress”, she found that stress in and of itself was not harmful. What was harmful was our beliefs about it. If we believe and accept that it is part of our life, it makes us stronger. If we believe it should be avoided at all cost, well, good luck with that, and it affects our physical and mental health.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish pain and trauma on anyone. I have seen the effects of childhood trauma, and I have also seen the incredible strength, wisdom and resilience that it gives birth to.
IF, and only if, we can accept, learn and grow from it. And that is always possible, even when it seems impossibly painful.
I see my teenage son suffer hurt and rejection.. ouch! And I also know there is huge growth happening, if we don’t say “that shouldn’t have happened”. It did, it already did, and to deny it is insanity. He is building emotional muscle.
I would rather we didn’t have to experience suffering, but the fact is that we do.
How do you relate to your own suffering and stress? As if it shouldn’t be there?
Let go of your resistance and start to work with it. Find solutions, move through it, don’t stay stuck as if this is your life.
Stressed? ….building muscle.
Challenges?….. building resilience.
Failure?….. Great. get used to it… building grit.
Conflict?…… Great… building huge muscle.
If a quiet man from Pennsylvania can change the face of American children’s television programming through song and connection, you can also build your own movement.
Move toward what you are avoiding and life becomes easier.
Have a wonderful day, full of ups and downs,