Embracing Understanding

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

I recently read an account by a psychologist working in non-violence who met with two street gangs to prevent them from killing one another.   In asking them to articulate their feelings and needs, their first impulse was to accuse the other group of what they had done wrong.  The psychologist patiently worked with them to uncover the feelings and needs behind their anger.  Often the anger has little to do with the other person.  Although the process took time, once the gang members expressed their feelings and needs one member of the gang said,  you mean if we can recognize and articulate the needs behind our anger we may not have to kill one another?

Although in most of our lives anger, unarticulated needs and misunderstandings do not lead to physically killing we may end up killing the spirit of another.   Not being in touch with needs behind our anger can often lead to harming others.  Unresolved issues in our lives may keep us from fully understanding another, appreciating their gifts and whole-heartedly supporting them.

From the Gospel of Mark (7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23) in the Christian scriptures Jesus tells those gathered that areas of our lives that take us away from being in right relationship with one another comes from within.   Jesus  could be suggesting that it isn’t what goes on around us that harms us, it is what we do with what comes into ourselves from our external environment that can possibly hurt us and others.

What wonders could take place in our world if we all worked to uncover needs behind our anger rather than placing that anger on someone else.  This unfolding could lead to greater understanding.

Our invitation is to embrace understanding.

Blessings and peace.

About SisterNancy

I am a Catholic Sister, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I enjoy swimming and nature: hiking in the mountains and along rolling hills, sitting by water and walking through the various seasons of life. I am a spiritual director, spirituality consultant, chaplain and retreat director. You can contact me at sisternancyosf@gmail.com
This entry was posted in Catholic Sister, non-violence, Spirituality, unarticulated needs, understanding, unmet needs and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Embracing Understanding

  1. First of all, love the photo! I have been reading RECONCILIATION by Thich Nhat Hanh and your writing reminds me of what he says about paying attention to the seeds within. If we are angry, we must go within and find the source of the anger…we will find the source of our suffering…and he advises us not to run away from our suffering but to welcome it, observe it, be mindful of it, transform it–then we can be understanding and offer compassion to those who out of their suffering have hurt us. I find his writing complements what Jesus says.

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