We are on an amazing trip to Barbados this week. It’s pretty spectacular. It’s a breathtaking island, we are surrounded by beautiful water, a lush green landscape and I should be relaxing and enjoying a pretty well deserved week off.
But part of me feels guilty.
How can I enjoy this amazing trip when there are so many other people who are dealing with tragedies, or struggling somehow?
Those of us who are empathic are extra sensitive to things around us. It can be an extraordinary way to be in the world. You connect to other people and the things around you through feelings and emotions and often it seems that you can literally feel what others are feelings. But the same way you feel the spectacular joy, you can also often be especially aware of suffering and hardships going on around you.
Sometimes it feels wrong to enjoy moments in life and enjoy abundance when there are a lot of people around us who are struggling just to survive.
On our way home from dinner the night before we left, we gave our leftovers to a man who has been sleeping in the doorway of a closed store down the street from us. He was so grateful. My manfriend asked me if I felt better knowing our food didn’t get thrown away that that man got something healthy to eat. I was but I was also really sad that he was even in that situation.
I could list so many awful things going on in the world that weigh on my mind an in my heart so much sometimes it feels like things are hopeless. Sometimes it seems endless… and overwhelming. But as I wake up each morning this week literally in paradise, I am reminding myself of two things.
First, for all the struggle and tragedy there are also the same amount of beautiful things happening around us. Sometimes it’s just easier to see the bad things because we want to fix them.
And me having less, not going on a trip or doing without something I really want or am passionate about in my life, doesn’t solve or fix any of the things going on around us. Us having less somehow can’t take away a friend’s illness. It won’t put out wildfires, or end homelessness, or any other tragic thing we wish we could take away from others.
I often have to remind myself as a really sensitive person that it’s even more important to take care of my energetic space and that it’s okay to have and enjoy my own life, even when others struggle. I can care about the wellbeing of the rest of the world and have a rich life for myself.
I can care that the man on the street doesn’t have a home or a warm place to stay, care and feel deeply for the people and animals fleeing in California, and have joy and abundance in my own life.
Somehow along the way it’s easy to think that my having more, you increase the burden of others, which isn’t true. Somehow along the way we learn that having ‘too much’ is wrong, and to help others and be good you should do without.
I think that by having a rich life, by taking care of yourself and your energy, you enable yourself to be able to help more people. You can have abundance and help those with less than you. You can have a rich joyful life filled with wonder, and be there for those in need. Sometimes it’s just showing support for a friend who is going through a hard time, sometimes it’s a monetary donation, sometimes it volunteering in person, sometimes it’s letting your voice be heard to influence change in your community.
The truth is, there’s always room to have more, for yourself and for others who might be in need.
This week I’m working on giving myself permission to really sink in and enjoy this beautiful paradise, recharge and refresh, so that when we go back home I’m more ready than ever to have more for myself and give more to others.