The purpose of the “Back to Center” advice column is to provide perspectives for personal realignment and empowered living in the COVID era. Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice about self-development and emotional and mental well-being in these complicated times. Please send your questions to [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you!
For all other inquiries, please direct your questions to [email protected].
I know so many people are bitter and angry toward those who have engineered the COVID pandemic…and that’s probably a big understatement. I understand where they’re coming from, and they have every right to feel that way – lives have been severely messed with over the past few years, and it’s ongoing in some places. But for my part, I mostly just feel sadness and pity for the people creating the lies. What happened to them in the past, or what is going on now in their lives that has caused them to turn upon their fellow human beings this way? I’m not sure that many people share this viewpoint – they’re too upset – but I’d be interested to hear what your thoughts are on this. Thanks!
Thanks so much for writing in! You offer a really interesting perspective that I haven’t heard from many people.
I love how you are looking beyond the wrongful acts to the people – the very real human beings – behind them. What brought them to this point in their lives that is motivating them to do the things they’re doing? I don’t have any clear answers but can offer some thoughts.
I believe that behind every malicious action lies personal pain of some kind. Think of a schoolyard bully. He or she picks on other kids, calls them names, spreads lies about them, sometimes even physically hurts them. That behavior doesn’t come out of thin air. It’s likely that that bully has a rough home life…or someone else treats them the same way they’re treating others…or they’re trying to get attention and love but don’t know how to do it in an appropriate way…or they’re just so sad over a loss in their life that they lash out at everyone…or any number of things. It’s all pain.
None of the bully’s pain points are an excuse for treating others so cruelly, but they could explain his or her behavior.
This is how I think about the grown-up bullies and tyrants of our day. If someone is motivated in their tyrannical behavior by greed for more and more and more money, maybe it’s because they’re desperately unhappy and are trying to fill the hole inside them with all the wrong things.
If it’s control over other people they want, maybe it’s because they feel out of control of their own life, were controlled by someone else when they were younger, or just feel so incredibly scared of this world that they need to control something and picking on someone else is far easier than looking within and addressing their fear.
Or it could be the ever-popular “I-feel-threatened-by-people-who-are-different-from-me-or-have-different-ideas-about-how-this-world-should-be-run-so-I’m-just-going-to-oppress-them-all-and-make-them-do-it-my-way” approach. Fear. Pain.
I can’t speak conclusively to what’s going on in the minds and hearts of others. And again, I’m not suggesting that any of this pain excuses the pain they’re inflicting on the world. I think it’s just important to remember that we’re all human beings with weaknesses and hurts, and that maybe the more we can understand that and have compassion for the pain, the better chance we have of healing this world and moving toward something better.
I hope these are helpful perspectives. I appreciate you bringing up this profound topic!
May we all love more than we hate, hope more than we fear, and actively work to create the kind of world we’d like to live in. All the best!
My extended family has been really divided about COVID issues. Before COVID, we would get together at every holiday, but last year around half of us didn’t come to the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations because some family members loudly stated their opinion that anyone who wasn’t vaccinated shouldn’t come. Unfortunately, some really ugly things were said between people. Now, Memorial Day is coming up, and our annual barbeque get-together is going to be happening as usual. I guess that certain people feel more comfortable now that COVID seems to be easing up. But the offenders are acting like nothing happened a few months ago…like no unkind words were said, like nobody got hurt. I feel like we have to talk about it, that apologies need to be made; it was NOT right for them to treat us like that. But they are literally saying nothing; it’s all smiles and avoidance. Do you have any advice about how to handle this? How can we feel like a family again?
Wow, it sounds like your family was really close before this conflict. I can tell they are very special to you, and that the hurt is very deep. I hope what I have to say is helpful in bringing healing to these relationships.
So, the people who said the worst things now seem to be acting like it’s all smoothed over. I can speak from personal experience when I say that behavior like this is nothing short of shocking. How could they possibly feel it’s okay to say nothing after all that?? I would venture to guess that they’re either oblivious to the severity of their behavior, or they’re extremely embarrassed about how they acted and don’t know what to do now except act as though everything is rosy.
But let’s turn to you now. It sounds like what you want is a recognition of the wrong that was done and an apology, for things to be mended, and for all of you to feel close again.
Since the only behavior we can control is our own, I’ll ask you: What do you want your role to be in this situation? How would you ideally like to handle it? It sounds like you feel a strong urge to talk about it; what do you want to say to them?
If it feels helpful, I would suggest either getting all your thoughts and emotions out on paper or speaking them out to a trusted friend or family member. Don’t censor yourself; let it all come out – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and see what’s there. It may give you clarity on what you’d like to say and how you want to say it. It may also just help you to vent things that you’re feeling but would never actually want to say out loud to your family.
You may also want to consider talking with other family members who feel similarly wronged, and see what approaches they suggest or might like to join you in. It may be important for the offending family members to see that the hurt they inflicted extends beyond just you.
I’m encouraged by your last question: “How can we be a family again?” It seems clear that that’s your goal, as opposed to telling people off or getting even. You want things to be made right and to heal between you. If you keep that as your main objective in whatever way you choose to express your feelings, I believe it will go a long way towards the reconciliation you’re longing for.
Best wishes to all of you for many years of family love and celebration ahead!
I have what is maybe kind of a strange question. I feel bad to say it, but I don’t feel like the last few years of COVID have ruined my life in any way. Actually, many things have gotten better for me! My online business went from making next to nothing to totally booming as so much more shopping moved online due to COVID. I’m so happy about my success, but a friend recently kind of gave me a guilt trip about it. “How can you be so happy when so many others have suffered terribly because of COVID?” she said. It’s not like I’m happy about the pandemic and the pain of others – it’s awful. I just feel good about how things have gone for me. Is it okay to feel this way?
Thank you for your question! It’s not a strange one at all; it’s a very real situation that we can all learn from. What happens when things are going well for us, but badly for others? Are our good feelings about our own success something to express and celebrate, or are they shameful and unwarranted because of others’ misfortune?
It seems to me that we need to make a differentiation here. Having good feelings about your success is one thing; how you choose to express those feelings in front of others who may be struggling is another. Let’s take them one at a time.
First, the good feelings. Yes, go for it! Celebrate your success!! And I’ll say congratulations too! What has happened in your business and your life is amazing, and I want you to own every bit of that goodness. The fact that your success came against the backdrop of COVID doesn’t have anything to do with you, and as you said, you are not celebrating anybody’s pain or taking advantage of it for your own gain. In fact, you should feel free to celebrate yourself, because you did the hard work to create and run your business in the first place!
It's a funny thing, but many of us have a hard time allowing ourselves to just feel good about our lives. The moment we’re feeling happy, content, and successful, our natural inclination is to self-sabotage, to doubt, to let some worry through the door of our minds that takes us out of our happy place. In your case, it was the voice of your friend that set off the worry alert within you. I want to encourage you to trust the statement you made in your message: “I’m so happy about my success” and remove the “but” that came after it when you started talking about your friend. You are allowed to feel happy about how well things are going for you. Success is a great thing!
Now, as for how we choose to express our celebratory feelings in front of others who are in pain, or those like your friend who are feeling very sensitive: It is, of course, important to be tactful. You can choose to practice sensitivity and empathy for others in a way that doesn’t undermine your own good feelings. And actually, the fact that you are in a good place could make you an even better listener and supporter for others who are hurting because you’re not distracted by personal struggle. Know which people in your life you can safely share all your good feelings with, those who will be truly happy for you, and use good judgment with everyone else.
I am very happy to hear your wonderful news, and hope that you can truly own it and let yourself enjoy it fully. Wishing you only success in the future as well!
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- ‘Struggling with my relationship with God since COVID’
- 'I have lost confidence in our healthcare system, including my own personal doctors'
- 'Can you forgive yourself for the years you couldn’t be there with your daughter?'
- 'My wife is willing to take the sacrifice for her sister and I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it'
- 'I deeply regret taking the vaccine'
- 'Married 39 years and I thought we were on the same page when it came to things that mattered most'
- ‘How do I repair this relationship or accept that I may never see my son again?’
- ‘How can I stop fear from controlling my every thought and ruining my dreams?’
- 'How can I pursue my dream to find the person to marry, when it's so hard to connect with new people because of COVID?'
- 'How can I feel safe these days?'
- Advice column premier: Back to Center
Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice! Please send your questions to [email protected]
Sarah Perron is a Certified Transformational Life Coach. Her passion is to help people create a powerful vision for their lives, identify and eliminate anything that holds them back, and step into their own unique greatness and mission in the world. She believes deeply in the power of coaching to bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and motivation to anyone who wants to thrive in life. Sarah works with clients one-on-one and in group coaching programs and presents exciting workshops on self-development topics. You can follow her on her YouTube channel Find Your Fire.
You are invited to book a complimentary coaching call with Sarah! Please visit https://calendly.com/sarahperroncoaching/45min to choose a time that's convenient for you. She looks forward to meeting you!