“I wish I loved anything as much as my kids love bubbles.” – Pete (Paul Rudd), in the film Knocked Up.
Bubbles are a fascinating thing. They live in suspended animation for these fleeting moments. Moments, that bring joy to the hearts of all children. I too appreciate the iridescent beauty of the bubble as if floats past; but the wonder my children experience as they gaze at floating bubbles bouncing over their heads… escapes me.
The world I live in appears to be vastly different than the world of my children. Their world is small and limited; mine, large and full of possibilities. As well, their priorities differ from mine. I have all sorts of fears and anxieties and they live more carefree than I ever could. But in reality, my world is pretty is not too different from theirs. My children feel safe and loved, and so do I. I live in a beautiful town where I can leave my doors unlocked and, most likely, nothing will happen. So I like my children, perceive my world as safe. In my “bubble” I’m safe.
My bubble is based on my own experience, it’s my perception. I grew up in a bubble that wasn’t full of crime and so my view is, the world is generally safe. Because I am a white male in my 30’s, I perceive the world around me as there to help me. Things are pretty good for me.
This is such and important principle to understand. I make judgments based on my bubble. My bubble tells me that I am safe and things should come easy for me. But what happens when my bubble “pops” and I am forced outside, forced to step into someone else’s bubble? What happens when some else’s bubble rubs up against mine and suddenly, my reality is no longer “my reality”?
I am very fortunate, I get to do this every day of my life. I work with drug addicts. People who’s bubbles are scary and awful. They will do anything to escape their reality, that’s why they have turned to drugs and alcohol, to escape the memories of the past.
Did you know that there is a stronger correlation between childhood trauma and addiction, than there is between obesity and diabetes? Meaning, if I’m obese, I have a very high chance of becoming diabetic, but if I was molested as a child, it’s more likely that I will become a drug addict. Yes you read that right. 66% of all addicts were raped, molested, or otherwise abused as children.１
Does that compute? We wage the “war on drugs” against a bunch of traumatized children who are all grown up. Children who have never learned how to deal with the memories of their traumatic childhood without using substances to “forget,” even for a brief moment, what happened to them.
Learning this has changed my perspective, it popped my bubble. And when my bubble popped, I chose to change my life and dedicate to helping addicts overcome their pasts. I’m not looking for praise here people, I just want to convey that when I stepped out of my bubble, I learned something I didn’t know. I stepped outside my bubble and I gained more empathy and understanding than I could ever imagine.
So maybe if we all took some time to step out of our bubble and into another person’s, we might learn something. Even more importantly, we might become more understanding of why someone does what they do. We gain empathy.
Here’s the challenge I am extending to us all: Walk off your path for a day. Spend some time with someone who doesn’t look like you. Get to know someone who you don’t understand. If you have some resentment toward someone, ask them about who they are. If you disagree with someone, find out why they think the way they do. If you see a homeless person on the street, instead of thinking “get a job!”, go ask him his story and buy him a sandwich.
I’m willing to bet that if we all took a moment to ask a few questions and understand the people around us before we try to pass judgment on them, we’d all be a hell of a lot happier. Give it a shot, and let me know how it went in the comments below….