Human Doing vs. Human Being
In the new Covid-19 world everyone is going virtual. In my part of that world it’s about virtual training. I get multiple emails every day either promoting a new virtual training, giving me a free course to get up to speed, or offering to help promote my own virtual stuff. It’s hard not to make comparisons between what we are doing and what they are doing. Inevitably, I feel inadequate. Is everyone else ahead of us? Will we get on the virtual train before it leaves the station? What are we missing? I easily get overwhelmed when I let myself go there.
Back when I was a therapist, patients would often share with me their desire to fit in and their struggle with low self-esteem because what they were doing wasn’t enough compared to others. I would often encourage them with this,
You aren’t a human doing. You are a human being.
My intention was to affirm that we are unconditionally valuable because we exist, not because of our actions.
These days I could use a dose of my own therapy!
Yet in a heavily achievement-oriented society that measures worth by what we DO instead of who we are, it’s easy to feel inadequate.
Then along comes Covid-19.
Doing, as we know it, is over for now
- No more showing off your latest brand of shoes at school.
- No more competing for that spot on the track team.
- No more heading to the office for a successful day’s work.
- No more running all those errands to feel productive.
- No more closing that big sale in record time.
- No more go, go, go.
Younger people may have the hardest time with this since they lack perspective and they’ve grown up experiencing and expecting quick fixes to most problems. I wonder if younger countries, like America, might also struggle more with this. We (Americans) are accustomed to winning the war, defeating the enemy, innovating a solution in record time, blasting through the rubble unscathed like every Marvel movie. Although we’ve suffered plenty in our short lifetime, our perspective is relatively limited compared to many.
Being is the next frontier
Human Doings spend so much time taking action that they haven’t cultivated their skills of Being.
I am in no way suggesting that we should back off on our efforts to contain and cure the CoronaVirus. I am suggesting that this challenge may also be a golden opportunity to rediscover what it means to be a human being.
My wife, Julie said it best;
“We need to adapt, learn and re-imagine our approach to help our clients at a time when training is not what they need, but compassion is.”
How has this crisis challenged your DOING way of life? What are you discovering about BEING a human? Will you share your comments?
Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020
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Well said and words and ideas that make me ponder. This is a time that “coaches” for years have said, “who are you going to become when no one else is around”? It truly is a time to be more mindful of “What is….” Thank you for your blog
I went through a PCM course in Newton while in Grad School and this message has stayed true. It’s always been about adjusting your mindset, focus, and energy to being more aware inside out.
The basic tools of understand psych needs and being aware of masks and drivers yields the same idea.
Be where your feet are and make that space the best space it can be for everyone there in generally a principle I follow. Now, there’s very few in that space and in times like these we need to remember to get back to us and refill our tanks.
Thanks for sharing, great message. Keep up the great work. It doesn’t go unnoticed.
Thanks for giving me a wonderful phrase I can whisper to myself when travelling through the “I am not doing enough” land:
“You aren’t a human doing. You are a human being.”
This will help to find my own balance between the Being and Doing, and to create my way to get in touch with clients .
Great Blog Nate.
We often cultivate the skills we need at the last moment rather than developing them as an approach to lifetime survival. All to often our skills are developed out of hard life lessons (Covid 19 crisis) not proactive lessons. Clearly the SEL movement and training programs like Next Element conduct, bring us in a direction that develops the skills, characteristics and abilities you write about here. Nicely stated my friend… all the best to you and everyone else at Next Element!
Thanks Peter! Great to hear from you.
Julie is so right. Our clients need our essence right now….our calm, consistent presence and warm, clear voices are as valuable as our advice.
There’s a time for advice…perhaps not right now. Thanks Ranlyn.
I may not be hitting the socially correct mark here but I’m not convinced that we are not, to a certain extent, human doing. The fact that we are eliminating competition by replacing it with compassion and ‘neutrality in perception” is admirable, but too easy. Compassion, at this particular point in time is valuable. My own compassion is piqued in other’s stories; in those who have a lot more to lose than I do. Still, discipline, education, devotion, ambition, — well, darn it, those matter too. I’m not being insensitive to ebb tides of self-esteem but it is unfair to say “I feel bad about myself so you should feel no better about yourself.” Equality is great but at some point we have to step off and recognize that success can be something earned; gain is a side benefit. I don’t mind words like ‘mindfulness” but one has to ask at what point does life become a list of platitudes of behavior? If this is truly who we should be, then education doesn’t matter. Ambition has no place. Determination is simply punishing yourself so don’t bother because… well… You are a good human being, by golly! I maintain that if we follow this “empathy/compassion train too far, we’ll all just end up looking for sympathy. — and that is neither who we are or what we can be, and not a place that I’m willing to go.
Ah, Tom. I hear you and feel your pain. That’s why I’d like to introduce you to the kind of compassion that reinforces that humans are valuable (being), capable (thinking), and responsible (doing). Old school compassion has greatly limited our understanding of what it means to exist in community with each other.
Oh my. I so needed to hear this today. We had training after training and workshops lined up, all of course coming to a screeching halt. I have been disappointed in myself for not getting it together and figuring out how to do this all virtually. My motivation has waned, while my anxiety is up… compassion is in order and for me, too. As always, I appreciate your thoughtfulness and perspective. You are a gem. Thank you.
Thank you so much Janet. We are all doing the best we can. Hang in there.
I am discovering that there is time to take care of yourself. I am discovering that taking a walk around your neighborhood is refreshing, energizing and full of wonder. I have discovered parts of my hometown I did not know about, beautiful sun-filled woods and gorgeous nature. Taking time to meditate and get centered first thing in the morning enables me to feel more solid all day. While this world is on pause, I am learning :-)!
Becoming a human being again!