Is Everyone Welcome in Your Guest House?

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival…

I ran across the poem, The Guest House, by Rumi again today.  I’m finding it a useful catalyst for reflection as we move toward year-end activities. If I discussed this process with a beloved mentor, she would ask me to take more than a few minutes reflecting on not just went well, but when I was disappointed or hurt, and be sure to feel all of it.

Welcome and entertain them all!”

Really, what choice do we have? We are feeling beings. I find when I suppress my feelings, they tend to show themselves at inopportune times, or cause great discomfort because they’ve not been given my loving attention.

I’ve been so inspired by some of my fellow writers here at BizCatalyst 360° and their stories of gently and carefully navigating through loss and pain, current and remembered.

(Some links to pick from if you wish.)

“Be grateful for whatever comes.”

All of our feelings, though some profoundly uncomfortable, belong. I know when I started to let this in, I became more fluid in making me way through my day, my year, and my life. The whole of us, our feelings of heartache and gratitude, make up who we are as human beings.

I plan to take in the feeling of my year, a little at a time — plan to create cozy containers of time and space where I can reflect and feel, and clean the windshield of my perspective as I look into the new year.


Mary Schaefer
Mary Schaefer
Mary is a fierce advocate for developing workplaces where the human beings who happen to be employees, thrive. Her speaking, coaching, training, and writing all focus on making the most of what human beings can contribute to an organization through their distinctive energy and creativity, while at the same time meeting their own specific needs for meaningful work. As the principal of her own business, Mary is a guide to increase empowerment and cultivate productive manager/employee interactions. Drawing from her experience as an HR manager, her work centers on talent development, performance management, and a positive employee experience. She is a co-author of the book, "The Character Based Leader." Mary has presented at the Inspiring Women in STEM Conference and is also a TEDx speaker. Her clients include small businesses, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies. Mary has a master's degree in human resources management and is a certified HR professional. This Midwest farmer's daughter is a big fan of homegrown cantaloupes, gapingvoid art, and LinkedIn.

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  1. A remarkable, thought-provoking and inspirational topic.
    In order to come into contact with one’s deepest feelings, a high emotional involvement is necessary, capable of bringing to the full knowledge of the personality and of the inner psychological dimension of the person and of encouraging self-awareness. Knowing oneself means opening oneself to the emotions and affective dynamics that support them, and then letting them go by focusing on some authentic feelings to be placed at the base of every daily action.
    The very feelings are the roots of our way of being and, in the course of life, they show us the paths to follow and the goals to be achieved, first of all the love that is able to bring the person to the deep truth and the desire, which is the driving force of the individual.

  2. Mary, this reflection is beautiful, and I can sense a calm and hopeful reflectiveness in your tone – almost a serenity prayer if you don’t mind the reference.

    Thank you for including a link to my essay, Underneath it All. It was a hard piece to write, but freeing in many ways.
    I remember – in one of our online chats – you telling me that it is okay to feel what I am feeling. Or, that if I am in a funk, go with it. There are many days when I reflect on this advice, especially when I’ve suppressed instead of letting go.

    I’m going to take your cue from this lovely penned post and let my feelings belong. Thank you for your gift of insight.

  3. I love this Mary. As we progress through our short time here, we’ll hit the jackpot some days, and be left bankrupt on others. Inevitably we have to keep our equilibrium after each kind of occurrence. And life becomes easier when we allow ourselves to feel what we feel. Having lost a dear friend recently, it was so comforting to be surrounded by people who shared the loss and no one was concerned about whether we were showing the proper set of emotions. We laughed and cried at her funeral, and she would have approved of the laughter and understood the tears. During her funeral it felt as if I was possibly doing some ugly crying, but our love for her was such that it hurt to lose her, even though our faith informs us that she has been given the gift that we all seek. In the six weeks since her passing, it doesn’t feel any better to have lost her, but knowing that we can feel how we feel whenever those feelings emerge, moving on is a process to embrace because she would have insisted on it. Knowing that you have lost a sister in the last few years, you must know what this feels like, and grief is something that knows no good timing, appropriate place or confines of a restricted amount of time.

    Having the license to be human releases us from the responsibility of having to put on faces that aren’t us, and we don’t have to burden ourselves with trying to figure out how we should be acting based on other people’s expectations, or a flawed mental vision of “how people should be acting.” And you are so right when you say that when we deny ourselves the freedom to feel what we feel, those feelings will show up a some point, and not necessarily at a time that is beneficial to anyone. And “to be grateful for whatever comes,” yes… Thank you Mary, so good to see you here, or anywhere :)

    • Hi Tom. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry for your loss of your obviously beloved friend. I’m so glad you could fall back on your insights about feeling, and that you and your friends could grieve authentically, and without the weight of “doing it right.”

      “Having the license to be human releases us from the responsibility of having to put on faces that aren’t us, and we don’t have to burden ourselves with trying to figure out how we should be acting based on other people’s expectations, or a flawed mental vision of “how people should be acting.” Well-said. Life can be confounding enough to navigate without trying to be someone else along the way.

  4. Hi Mary, I loved your article because I felt your words. One of the greatest awakenings I have had is that feeling is the most exquisite human experience. Feeling is what we are here to do! Whether it is happiness or sadness, optimism or rejection, all must be felt. When we push our feelings deep down inside, we stifle life. I have noticed that the more I let myself feel the negative experiences the easier they are to let go. Feeling releases the negative energy from our cells and allows us to heal like when we have a good cry. Crying is part of our tool kit. Feeling happy or positive emotions, on the other hand, also helps to release the negativity we have held captive in our cells. We should not fear feeling bad or sad. It is a part of the human experience and we need to stop shaming ourselves and others when it happens. Like Aaron stated, writers are gifted with this insight.

    • Wow, Helen. While reading your response I just kept repeating, “yes!”

      HH: “When we push our feelings deep down inside, we stifle life.” Emotion – literally, energy in motion. I can trace many of my complaints, emotional and physical, to when I pushed down what I was feeling. For so many reasons, it is useful and even nourishing to allow ourselves to feel.

      Thank you for your response, and for elaborating on this topic so eloquently.

  5. A lovely sentiment Mary Schaefer. It is a blessing unique to writers that we may experience and accept the full range of human emotions and how they shape us in our daily lives… the good, the bad and the ugly… What we may not be able to express in direct conversation, we are usually able to translate in written words. This is our gift, and we can discover exactly what makes us tick inside. Of course we all seek to be grateful and compassionate, but sometimes kindness is an elusive vapor. Sometimes we’re disappointed or simply pissed off at the world. It happens, and we move forward until we can find some peaceful resolve. Your article is a solid reminder that everything is a simmering pot of steam. We just need to be careful before opening the lid…

    • Thank you for responding, Aaron. Your comment is a gorgeous (highlighted and bolded text) piece of writing, and gorgeously inspiring too. I aspire to not burn myself, and at the same time, am reminded to find compassion for myself when I handle that pot of steam not so carefully.