Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

From Conflict to Compassion In One Step

We’re breathtakingly simple creatures who’ve found out how to do wildly complicated things. We perform heart transplants, clone sheep, and traverse the skies in flying tubes, while sustaining our bodies with a cup of coffee and one or two slices of toast. 

When we feel low, it doesn’t take much to perk ourselves up. And the other way around.

But since much of what we deal with every day is so gigantic in scale, we lose sight of our simplicity and assume that our gloomy or clumsy moments are caused by something complex.

The idea of something small taking us down feels insulting. It suggests we’re weak.

So if we’re having a particularly off day, we’re unlikely to turn to plain explanations for our problem: we’re sleepy, our blood sugar is low, or someone was mean to us. Instead of eating a banana or taking a nap, we’re likely to think something is seriously wrong with us that demands special attention.

But our well-being is really not that perplexing. Although it is intricate and prone to malfunctioning without proper upkeep. In that way, we’re similar to a fancy sports car. 

If one bolt isn’t screwed on tightly enough, the whole automobile is about as ready for travel as a brick. 

And we all intuitively know this when we’re dealing with young people. If a toddler flips their bowl of pasta over that we just spent 30 minutes preparing, we don’t assume ill intent and get angry. We assume they’re sleepy, overstimulated or perhaps that their bib is on a little too tight. 

But how often do we consider the legitimate reasons behind the frustration of an adult?

Probably not often enough. After all, we expect grownups to be better than that. It’s almost offensive to think a full-grown person could act so childishly. 

But adults act out all the time over the most mundane things. Maybe they woke up with a throbbing headache, read a nasty Instagram comment, or barely received a thank you after finishing their last work project.

It seems so minor at a glance. Yet we can all recognise that it’s anything but. 

Days can be ruined by the most simple things. Let’s offer ourselves and others the grace to acknowledge our fragility in the face of life’s daily challenges and respond with compassion.

Just as we would tend to a toddler and her spilled pasta.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach