Q & A with Bernie – May 20, 2013

Question for Bernie:

I still have this thought pattern that to LOVE people, I have to do a lot of stuff for them even if I don’t really want to.  I get frightened I will be rejected as a friend if I say no or change my mind.

daisy frameOn Sunday it was Mothering Sunday and my mum came over with her gentle but bouncy rescue dog.  My daughter had her friend round to play. The 10 year old friend was frightened of the dog and shut herself in my daughter’s bedroom.  My daughter was crying because she felt her friend (two years her senior) was having a horrible day.

My mum said in a loud voice that the friend was manipulating the whole situation and that the friend couldn’t have supper unless she came and sat at the table (where the dog was). My husband said he couldn’t cope with any of it after a tiring week in London and wanted everyone to go home (he said that only to me).

I sat while all this was happening and for a moment felt the experience that I wasn’t really there and was an onlooker. I looked at my mum and saw her trying to take control of the situation although it was not her own home. I saw my daughter upset at my mum’s words and thinking that the friend would not want to visit again. I saw my husband angry and not wanting to be a part of the situation.

It felt like this chaos going on around me, but instead of me feeling anxious and upset and being pulled into the whole thing, I was just an observer, trying to understand what was going on. I don’t know how long I felt this—maybe just a few seconds—but I then gathered myself and got everyone to come and sit down to the meal.

dog bouncyI promised the friend that I would hold the dog and she would be quite safe and she sat down at the table.  I asked my mum to sit down. She did sit down, but at the head of the table which I didn’t realize at the time, and I gave my husband a kiss.  She said quietly that the others were due to go home in 20 minutes—and that the roast dinner was lovely!!

So this sense of being the observer made me feel that in a way I was opting out, and I asked myself if this was healthy. I did feel detached from the others in a way, and I wondered if it was cold or uncaring of me that I didn’t jump in amongst everyone else and have my own mini- outburst.

I grew up feeling that being kind meant being submissive.  I wondered if being detached was a submission action.  I’m still not sure. I did spend time talking to my daughter and my husband after the others had gone.

Can you advise?

Bernie’s Answer:

Being submissive is not love.  Unconditional love benefits the giver and receiver, and part of that is to say “No” if you do not want to do something. That is how you love yourself.

I’ve said this many, many times, but it bears saying it again.  You really can’t hope to give love genuinely to another if you first don’t learn to love yourself.

Try to let your heart make up your mind rather than coldly analyzing “facts” and basing your behavior on the outcome of that sterile thinking.



Question for Bernie:

How do you tolerate never ending suffering?  Maybe Jesus was not forsaken after all?

Bernie’s Answer:

Pain is necessary but suffering is not.  Suffering is due to emotional choices.

mans_search_for_meaningAn example of that I think is very profound is this–in a concentration camp, a man was thanking God.  Someone said he is just crazy from the torture and horrific killing all around him.  But this man said that he was thanking God for being who he was and not one of them—the killers and torturers.

If you change your attitude and/or your life, you can withstand much more in the way of physical pain and emotional pain.  The wisdom of the ages tells us that to live is to suffer, but to survive is to find meaning in the suffering (Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning).

So when going through hell, ask “What am I to learn from this?”  You may then experience a diamond emerging from the pressurized charcoal.  It works.