No One Is Immune–So Invite It In

A couple of years ago, I attended a huge conference for mental health professionals in San Francisco.

One of my favorite teachers, Irving Yalom, was the keynote speaker, in his 80s.

Most people have never heard of him.

But he is famous in the world of mental health, a beloved psychotherapist who has taught at Stanford and practiced his profession for more than 40 years.

Irving Yalom wrote in one of his many books that the capacity to tolerate uncertainty is a prerequisite for becoming a therapist, and that really we are all in this together.

Like, we’re all going to die.

“We are all in this together and there is no therapist and no person immune to the inherent tragedies of existence.” ~ Irving Yalom

This reminded me of Byron Katie saying “there are no new thoughts!”

When I first read Loving What Is, I realized that I had so many objections I could write the book Upset With What Is.

And I really did want there to be some kind of way out of this predicament. I wanted immunity to the “tragedies” of existence.

I didn’t want bad stuff to happen.


But now, even though I’ve gone through so many of these inherent tragedies of existence at this point (death, loss, addiction, fear, despair, grief) there is truly a strange acceptance of uncertainty.

Complete and total uncertainty.

So fabulous to question the belief “I need to be certain…I need to find out…I need to know…I need to immunize myself against tragedy!”

Without the belief I need to be certain….

….without the thought that I need to know anything, have answers, give advice, or help anyone (including myself) avoid pain….

….it is indeed a strange, wild, wonderful existence.

Turning it all around: I do not need to know, I don’t need to be certain of anything, I need to NOT know, I do not need to immunize myself against anything.

Strange and unusual for the mind to sit with.

And yet….exciting. Thrilling! Brilliant!

Instantly aware of the pulse below the surface even in this moment of life, of hearing noises of cars, tapping of fingers on laptop, checking clock for the hour, the slight ache in the back, the pale light of the room, heart beating, body warm.

Awesome surroundings. Miraculous.

I wouldn’t trade any of it.

And if I would, I’ve got The Work.

“The dark thought, the shame, the malice. Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whatever comes. Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” ~ Rumi

Much love, Grace

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