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Everyone alive has suffered. It is the wisdom gained from our wounds and from our own experiences of suffering that makes us able to heal. Becoming expert has turned out to be less important than remembering and trusting the wholeness in myself and everyone else. Expertise cures, but wounded people can best be healed by other wounded people. Only other wounded people can understand what is needed, for the healing of suffering is compassion, not expertise. —Rachel Naomi Remen

We all suffer. It may take on different forms, be of greater or lesser magnitude, but none of us is immune to illness, disappointment, failure, or loss. Despite the universal nature of suffering, it is risky to share our experiences with it, our vulnerability, how suffering humbles and wounds us. Yet, it is in that honesty, that willingness to shed our masks, our expertise, that something almost magical happens—a knowing of sorts that our most profound experiences are shared.

When do you drop your mask, your script, and show up with your vulnerability intact? How is the quality of your interaction different when you do that? If this is something you rarely do, try opening up (in situations you deem are safe) and sharing more of yourself, wounds and all.

This practice is inspired by conversation cards focused on love, forgiveness, and compassion, a resource available from the Fetzer Institute.

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Rumi on helping others heal

Rumi on helping others heal

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming to “be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder.” Sometimes a smile and a kind word is enough to shift someone’s day or outlook. Sometimes we can do more, like serving our communities and overcoming cruelty with compassion.