Philosopher Simone Weil wrote,
“Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention. The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle. Nearly all those who think they have this capacity do not possess it. Warmth of heart, impulsiveness, pity are not enough.”
I’ll be exploring this capacity in an upcoming workshop for the New England Association for Conflict Resolution. I’m teaming up with friend and colleague Jeanne Cleary for the following session at the annual conference:
Pain and suffering often lie beneath conflict. What of this “beneath” is our business? How do we grow our capacity to bear witness without judging or fixing and to stay with our clients wherever they are? And how can we stay in the shadow of pain without carrying its weight on our own shoulders? This workshop is will explore how relief from suffering often comes from stepping closer to it, how to attend to another’s pain without judgment and comfort without agenda, and how developing fluency with the nature of suffering can help us serve clients in profoundly transformative ways. We will also explore ideas for building self-awareness and providing self-care in the face of others’ suffering.