It’s like looking for caterpillars
I search for them every day when my cabbages and broccoli are growing. Some I find quickly. Others, I notice only when I look again. Sometimes seeing one leads me to another and then another – a huge one here and a cluster of little ones hiding there.
The same is true when we’re looking for needs.
Some are obvious and immediately pop into our awareness – like the yellow and black caterpillars that are a clear contrast to the colour of the leaves.
But maybe these are not the whole picture. If we look a little bit more deeply – metaphorically turning over the leaves and searching for what lies hidden – we begin to discover new aspects of ourselves. We become aware of how we interpret the world around us and of the direction in which our energy is driving us.
My partner, Bill, had an accident recently and was confined to hospital. For the first couple of days, I went out of my way to prepare tasty treats and other diversions from the tedium of life in the Acute Dependency Unit. My offerings were not welcomed. I wasn’t even sure that he looked foward to seeing me.
I was hurt. I was upset. I was resentful.
If you were to guess what was important to me, you might suggest that I was wanting some recognition for the efforts I was making – some gratitude, perhaps.
Well, that would explain my resentment, because my thinking had gone like this:
I’ve put myself out for you. You should be grateful.
But that was my ‘story’. It was my reaction to the way I was interpreting Bill’s behaviour. Seeing it as ‘rejection’ carried an emotional charge, and fed my upset.
Looking further and more deeply took me to a different place. I wanted to make a contribution to his comfort. But the intensity of the pain that Bill was experiencing drew his attention inwards and rendered him unable to accept anything other than the most basic care. What I was offering him was something he hadn’t asked for and was more than he could cope with.
With this in mind, my hurt dissolved. I looked for other ways to contribute. I did what I could to ensure that he was as safe and comfortable as was possible in the circumstances and then let him be.