Friday, March 12, 2010

Talking Me Down

One Jesuit I lived with, who is a close friend, would call me aside occasionally. “Talk me down from the ledge,” he would begin. Then he would proceed to tell me what he was thinking and ask, “Am I crazy to think that?” Sometimes I would say, “Yeah, that’s a little crazy,” but most of the time I found myself saying, “No, it’s not crazy to think that at all.” This way of “checking in” with people who know us well is a good practice, one that I try to practice myself.

In fact, I find this most helpful when someone accuses me of doing something wrong. Of course, my initial response is to be defensive (I didn’t do that! How could you think that!). But it helps me to put aside that initial defensiveness and go to someone I trust, asking them to tell me honestly whether I’m guilty of the thing of which I have been accused. For example, I might ask, “Have you seen me mistreat that person in the way he or she is saying that I did. “ If I have, and I just lack the objectivity to see it, I trust someone else to help me see the need for reconciliation, so that I can help bring that about.

When I tell people this, sometimes they think it’s kind of crazy. If what the other person is saying doesn’t ring true, why should you presume it’s your fault? But, I counter, what if it is? I know I’m not perfect or always in the right, even when I think I am. Another perspective can often help me see things more clearly. This is why having a spiritual director can be really important. This is someone to whom you reveal most intimate things about yourself and your relationship with God and others. And, hopefully, this is someone you can trust to be brutally honest with you, when necessary.

We are passionate people, and we all have times when it helps to have someone we can quickly call or go see, to talk us down from the ledge.

--Fr. Mark

Have you seen this scene from "Yes Man"?

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