Having a Hard Time

One of the most transformative questions I've been asking myself lately is: "Is this person having a hard time?" (I like asking this question to/about myself, too.) This question allows me to practice being with and holding space for my own and other people's emotions.

I think many of us are having a hard time more often than we might realize. Many behaviors that we see as problematic, attention-seeking, or difficult, are just human attempts to regulate ourselves. We're primed to see people experiencing dysregulation as "bad," or in need of punishment/correction, when often, they need support & care.

I think that sometimes we don't recognize this hard time because when other people are in emotional distress, we can be too. Many of us weren't taught how to be with ourselves when we feel distress, so witnessing other people having a hard time can be difficult. Witnessing someone else's hard time can remind us of times when our feelings weren't tended to, or when we were punished for being dysregulated.

For me, asking "is this person having a hard time?" helps put me back into the present moment, and reminds me that we are all humans, trying to feel safe.

*These questions/observations are less a prescription of how to relate to each other, and more a reflection on a question/orientation I’ve found helpful recently in sorting through all the ways our nervous systems + brains communicate. There are situations where these questions might not be the most transformative, or even useful, including when emotional dysregulation occurs because the need to be centered because of whiteness and/or class, or other unearned privilege isn't being met.