A client shared this gem with me yesterday about pickles not being able to read their label. I love metaphors, and this one describes the impossibility of objectively analyzing oneself and so much more.
Sure, there are many things we can discover on our own. Life, after all, is simply a long journey of self-discovery. We can meditate, journal, reflect on our experiences, etc. However, many things in life simply require others.
I love the saying, “One man is no man.”
Identity is a social phenomenon. I believe our selfhood arises in the context, connection, and contrast of others. We certainly form identities as children through the mirroring, echoing, and validating of those around us.
I also suspect that all of the most meaningful things in life are not things at all, nor can you hold them in isolation. The shades of joy, beauty, and excitement that color our world with meaning are created in the space between human souls.
Love is not something you have; it’s something you share.
Friendship is not something you have; it’s something you share.
Humor is not something you have; it’s something you share.
I.e., it’s quite possible that joy and meaning arise when our experiences are couched in a shared humanity.
I’ve had painful, shame-spiral experiences that completely destroyed my day. Then upon sharing my story with a dear friend, I found myself laughing uncontrollably at the same situation, feeling incredibly safe, seen, soothed, and secure by simply connecting with another person.
Love and belonging are irreducible human needs without which we always find suffering.
And shame thrives in isolation.
I’ve heard the number one sign of positive mental health is reaching out to another human being for help, and now that makes all the sense in the world.
You can’t sit at home and heal from toxic shame all by yourself. Relational trauma can only be healed relationally.
So the next time you find yourself in a pickle… maybe you’re actually in a pickle jar, and you can’t read the damn label.
And perhaps reaching out for help isn’t just a good idea, but a necessity.