For the last several weeks, I have been plagued with a question.
The following refrain has been playing over and over in my head. All feelings are mutual. All feelings are mutual. All feelings are mutual.
I can feel the truth of it in my bones.
And yet, I can’t figure out what it means. Why is this message is coming to me now? Why does it feel so important to wrap my head around it?
And so I did something really smart –I reached out to one of the wise teachers in my world and asked. What the heck does “all feelings are mutual” mean? Turns out she was exactly the right person to ask.
Here is Karen Maezen Miller’s beautiful response below:
How nice to hear from you. You approach me with gratitude for my words, and I respond to you with equal gratitude. That’s what it means. We all know what this means by our own experience:
If I am cranky, the world reflects my crankiness.
If I am angry, the world returns my anger.
If I am critical, the world returns my small-mindedness.
If I am non-judgmental, the world accepts me.
If I smile, someone smiles back.
And so on.
We see and receive whatever we project.
And just so we don’t feel as if we are carrying the blame for all the negativity, just observe and respect that everyone is suffering. That’s what we share most of all!
This is not a philosophy. It really works like this.
But we have to see it for ourselves and take responsibility for ourselves. If we are the least bit aware, we will be careful with what we give to the world. It will always return to us, because of the physical reality of the universe. Although it looks like we are separate, we are not. We share everything; we are like waves in an ocean. If an ocean is poisoned, every wave carries the poison, no?
I have read her message over and over to myself. I have read it out loud to a friend and to nobody in particular. And I’m just now beginning to understand it in a deep way. It feels as if spirit has been smiling down on me, whispering in my ear, and then leading me to the perfect interpreter.
With her permission, I wanted to share it with you. Does it resonate for you as well?
Thank you Karen for your generosity + wisdom. A thousand times thank you…
What this means to me: I feel like the luckiest, most beloved person in the world. And I realize that what’s happening is that I am receiving a lifetime of love that I have bestowed on others. It’s making me more tender. It’s shaking my bones. It’s making me the most grateful person alive. And, in turn, it’s making me return to others from a place of fullness, gratitude, and love. Plus joy.
This is amazing. Thank you!
“We see and receive what whatever we project” Yes, and I know this, have learned this but still slip sometimes. Yesterday the one person who gets under my skin was on a roll and I thought about how it might feel to punch her in the face. (really, I’m not a violent person) Later that night I pulled something out of an upper cabinet in the kitchen and a can fell out onto my nose. I cried and my nose bled from the impact. So I begin again. Compassion, love & non-judgment feel a lot better.
two of my favorite wise teachers – you & Karen. Thanks for sharing!
Again, your words and experiences remind me to keep seeking my truth and self-love. Thank you.
I learn this again and again and again. When I remember. And when I forget. Someday, I hope I know it in my bones.
Thank you for the reminder.
And then I wonder, why do I see the same thing everywhere I look? Now I begin to understand, it is because I am looking at them with the same eyes.
This most of all I want to carry with me “we will be careful with what we give the world.” Too much lately I have given only frustration and impatience. I so want a world of peace and compassion, and Karen’s world have given me a new perspective on that old song “let it begin with me.”
This is gorgeous, and so reassuring. Thank you for this, Andrea and Karen both. I’m especially appreciative of how Karen included a special reminder to keep in mind that everyone is suffering. It’s so easy to blame ourselves for the negative if we forget that.
thank you so much Andrea and Karen for this marvellous gift. it is so beautifully written it speaks to me more deeply than at other times. and I know it is true.
Yes! I think so much about this. I have a quote (below) written in a book and think about it often – particularly as the mother of small kids (!)
I try to read it regularly and absorb it..it’s a different version of the same, ages old idea and deep universal truth. Thank you for a new words to put to this idea.
“I have come to the (frightening) conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration; I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” (Goethe)
Love this. Such a great reminder. I remembered it today when I was struggling with something…and I then knew at least 7 others in the same boat. It was interesting that even though I knew there were 7 others, I wanted to deny that fact. Then, I got over myself and sent each one of them some love. And with that, I felt love again. P.S. Thanks for the Goethe Arabella!
Andrea, this post couldn’t have come at a better time…I was just mentioning to a colleague and friend the other day that we all are suffering and the person causing us the most discord must be suffering terribly. We are struggling with someone at work. Sometimes it is so hard finding compassion for the ones who are suffering, who at first seem to be causing our sadness or bad feelings, even though I know that I get to decide how I feel. Well, I got out Alexandra Franzen’s book and wrote an “awesome” note to this person and I felt so much better. I still think I need write many more, but it is a start. It can’t more true: what we put out there comes right back to us. Thank you.
Thank you Andrea. Thank you Karen. Wise women. Wise words. Thank you.
Wow, just Wow! This week I have been floored by the strange group dynamics on the Board where I serve. This has me thinking a lot about how to handle the situation, a situation where I want to lead with compassion and kindness. You’ve shared something that I think will help sort through all the jumbled thoughts in my head. Thank you!
As I reflect on Karen’s words, I just keep feeling mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Yes, very much. I know so many people who would benefit from reading these words. Thank you!
Yes, yes, and YES! And i SO needed to read exactly THIS right now. Thank you for sharing your questions and your answer Andrea, for the 1000th time :).
Usually I don’t learn article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very great article.