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This 'Being Human' is a Guest House

By: Mira Franco, LCSW, Site Director at The Renfrew Center of Chicago

Posted on May 13, 2019


More often than not, our suffering grows and expands in the face of our efforts to try and not feel uncomfortable. This can be a hard pill to swallow – that we need to be with whatever life brings us (whether it comes in the form of a great joy or in the form of a great difficulty). Approaching all emotions is a heavy ask, and one that can be hard to put into practice. When feeling as though this is a challenge, I find comfort in the ancient wisdom of 13th century Persian poet, Rumi:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

—Rumi


Rumi beautifully illustrates the pose we can adopt when approaching the feared and painful – one of a gracious host. And this can be quite a shift – to move away from an "Oh no! Not you again!" – perspective, to a "Well, hello! Let's sit down and get to know one another" – one. Yet adopting this curious and inviting pose can dramatically alter our relationship to these experiences. For it is only in acknowledging emotion that we can hope to learn from it, and only when showing our pain compassion that we can hope to heal it.

Mira Franco, LCSW, is the Site Director at The Renfrew Center of Chicago. She received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and her Master's degree in Social Work from The University of Illinois – Champaign Urbana. Ms. Franco received clinical training in Family-Based Treatment (FBT) for Eating Disorders from The University of Chicago Medical Center's Training Institute for Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders. She is dedicated to the provision of quality, family-centered therapy services to strengthen individuals and support families.
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