Barely One You Wish to Harm
There are only so many people you can
Carry in your small boat before their
Weight sinks you.
A hundred you can carry whom you love.
But barely one you wish to harm.
Using the metaphor of a boat to stand in for one’s life or soul, Hafiz suggests first that there’s only so much that any individual can carry at any given time. That makes sense. It’s the nature of a boat to sink if you load it down with too much weight.
According to Hafiz, however, not all weight is created equal. We can carry 100 people whom we love, but barely one we wish to harm. The weight of those we wish to harm, and of the emotions that wish brings along with it, is 100 times greater than the weight of the emotions associated with someone we love.
Which brings us to Energetic Leaks.
A few years ago, I really screwed something up at work. It was a dumb mistake and, since I generally see myself as an intelligent and competent person, I felt a ton of shame around it. As a result, I didn’t tell anyone. Not my coworkers, not my boss, not even my friends. Not only did I not tell anyone, I also didn’t do anything about the mistake.
What began, in the scheme of things, as a small, easily fixable error compounded over time to become a ticking time bomb.
I watched it happen. The more the error became entrenched, the greater both my urge to share and fix the error and the shame associated with it became. The shame always grew a bit faster, keeping the urge to act in check.
This small incident took on a disproportional presence in my life. I dreamed about it. It started to affect my view of myself. How could I be competent if I had not just made this error, but also couldn’t bring myself to own and fix it? Clearly I was a screw up. And who would want to be friends with a screw up? No one. It was best if I just withdrew entirely and hid. Perhaps in a cave.
My ship began to sink under the weight of this single error. I was leaking energy all over the place.
If this were a conventional ‘healing’ story, I’d now share how I overcame my shame and fixed the error. But I didn’t. The time bomb went off, time and money were lost, and my boss, who I had a great deal of respect for, went ballistic.
It sucked. But, boy, what a great lesson in what can happen when an energetic leak goes unaddressed.
Based on that experience (and many others) along with a ton of reading and super spiritual work, here are some things I’ve been to be true about energetic leaks:
- They tend to start off pretty small. A careless mistake. A missed opportunity to have a conversation with a partner. A forgotten detail. It’s only over time that they take on added significance.
- Energetic Leaks love to partner with shame. Shame protects the leak, making it much less likely that you’ll address it.
- The places where we experience leaks, whether in our professional or personal lives, are usually those places where we have the greatest opportunity to grow.
Each person experiences energy leaks a bit differently, but here are a few common indications that there’s something that needs attention:
- Feelings of exhaustion or loss of appetite;
- A sense of misalignment in an area of relationship;
- A knot in the stomach and/or tightness in the chest;
- Wanting to sleep all the time.
- Tightness or defensiveness around the area where the leak has sprung.
Once you’ve detected a leak, you get to decide what to do about it. In my example, I chose to do nothing and lived with the consequences of that inaction. Another choice would have been to own my role in the mistake, apologize, and fix it. Ultimately, the way to fix the leak is to address it as directly and compassionately as possible. Often, simply naming the issue and sharing it with someone can lighten the load, helping your ship stay afloat and moving forward.
Though it’s a simple enough concept to grasp, actually working with energetic leaks can present significant challenges. Practices like breathwork or meditation can help navigate those challenges, as can joining or building a supportive community. Working with a coach, therapist, or healer can also help.
All of those are tools. At the end of the day, each of us is responsible for plugging our leaks, keeping our ship afloat, and carrying as much as we can safely and with love.