Life Is Easier When You Remember The Layers
A friend, a recent college graduate in geology, thought I was being ridiculous…. But I don’t like to take things from nature (stones, leaves, seashells) into my house.
On the one hand, I love their beauty, reminders of trips or hikes, and how they infuse my home with earth’s marvels. But their function in the natural world — for bugs, microbes, homes or shelters for creatures — seems more important than that.
I’m not on a soapbox here. I’m sharing why it was significant that when I saw this stone on the beach, I put it in my pocket.
It spoke to me about the reality of layers. How we live in them — and forget.
“So many people have it worse.”
Do you know people in the midst of personal difficulty or tragedy who say, “So many people have it worse”? It often feels like the end of the conversation… because what do you say?
While it’s true, someone somewhere has it worse (or better) than you, for the most part, life is more complicated than that.
When my clients say that to me, I honor where they might be coming from: how it’s helpful to step out of personal human drama to see a bigger picture, and to tap into gratitude.
But that comment may stop people from honoring their own hard feelings, by saying they don’t have a right to feel them. And when you don’t honor your feelings, there’s little room for them to change and heal.
The truth is: We live in simultaneous layers.
“Life isn’t linear.”
That was a phrase my late husband, Howard, said one night when he couldn’t comfort our crying newborn son.
Howard was doing the exact same thing that worked like magic the night before, but it didn’t even come close to abracadabra the second time. He realized there were too many factors to expect consistent results from people and life.
Those factors and layers happen simultaneously. We often focus on only one of them. But remembering that many are operating helps us have options and feel less swept up in either stress or denial.
Let’s say you fall on a sidewalk crack.
You could experience:
- Physical pain.
- Frustration that you’ll be late to where you were going.
- Examination of where you fell and why it happened.
- Cognitive analysis if you broke or sprained anything — and what you might do about it.
- Gratitude and spiritual connection that you’re not worse than it might have been.
And they’re all happening at the same time. What you’re aware of depends on where you focus.
Touching into layers helps.
When clients who say, “it could be worse,” I honor the truth of that statement, that goodness and difficulty live side-by-side.
We also explore the other layers as well: Feeling gratitude for things that are going well. Space to feel and release body tension and emotions. Thoughtful understanding of what’s happening, and practical next steps to take.
We need all the layers to create the movement for healing.
If you find you’re laser-focused on something that doesn’t shift — insomnia anxiety, job stress, self-criticism — check into other layers of reality.
Can you feel both anxiety and gratitude? Thoughtfulness and spiritual connection? Body and mind?
That will help you rest at night, but also have more agency during the day, for the life you want.
May you be supported by many layers,