Going beyond labels... and why it matters
I was talking to a friend recently and he was having a hard time with an issue to do with an intimate relationship. After he while he said that it was all "just craving" and this, it seems was the end of the conversation. I very much doubt it ended the issue! but it struck me how often our use of labels puts us at a distance to direct experience. It's convenient, yes, and yet this distance means it never really changes. It never changes because we haven't taken the time to really listen, to really see what is happening. To feel it and register its truth. Why? Because it's painful probably and it's an easier choice to avoid the pain.
Take the example of craving - a label I often applied to my experience in days gone by. What is it directly? What might be wanted? And under that wanting, what is it that is truly wanted? Perhaps companionship, community or expression. A whole host of needs sit under that label and unless we acknowledge them, there they sit and wait... unchanged and unheard. Who wants to be unheard?
Once we listen everything changes. We can acknowledge how we truly feel on all levels, we can take in what is deeply needed by the whole being. And we can take small steps to help that happen or at least hear it. Craving and longing get a bad name in many circles but for me they are pointers to something deeper that needs acknowledge and respect. After all our longing and wanting can take us to amazingly creative and open places.
There is something that happens - a kind of magic that unfolds when we touch direct experience, when we place our curious and kind awareness into the stream of reality. It brings change. It is the present moment, it is the touchstone of reality. The living process rather than our labels for it.
What other labels are used like this? Here are a few common ones; My ego, my anger, self sabotage, inner child, insecurity, self hated, denial, inner critic, grief...These are all living processes or you could call them the messages from a part of you that needs your love. They need to be met just as they are. And if we find it hard to be curious about these, then we turn towards any part of us that finds it hard and be with what is happening there, be with that place with empathy.
And it's important to say that having a label can be helpful - creating a safe distance to something that is difficult to bear directly. In the short term it creates safety and a way of relating. .. and in the right conditions... I invite you to be curious...