The Real Desires of Everyone – The School of Life

In many situations, we may want to help others and show kindness, but we’re not sure what they need. We want to deepen our connection with them and provide assistance, but we don’t really understand what we could offer. Their minds seem impenetrable, and their problems are unclear.

At these times, it’s important to remember that we all have a superpower, the ability to give people something they fundamentally require: reassurance. Life is an ongoing emergency for everyone. We are haunted by doubts about our worth, concerns about our future, and shapeless anxiety. We all need reassurance, regardless of age or status. We all long for someone to say something soothing, to make us feel valued and to have faith in us. It doesn’t matter if the reassurance is small or barely noticeable; it can have a critical impact.

It’s easy to mistake reassurance for flattery, but reassurance involves revealing genuine affection in order to bolster someone’s ability to endure. The words we need to say to reassure aren’t new or complicated, but they are valuable and more inclined to stick if someone else addresses them to us.

‘I think you’re going to be fine’; ‘everyone goes through things like these’; ‘you have nothing to be ashamed of…’ The words we need to say to reassure aren’t new, they can be the most apparently banal of sentences, but we need to keep hearing them because our minds are extremely bad at holding on to their nourishing truths. They are, furthermore, lines that are a great deal more valuable and inclined to stick if someone else addresses them to us than if we try to rehearse them by ourselves.

In 1425, the Florentine artist Masaccio painted a rendition of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Regardless of one’s beliefs, the painting depicts a version of agony that is essentially universal. It reflects the universal struggle of being beset by woes and needing reassurance and gentleness.

Living in a time that often no longer believes in divine reassurance means we have a responsibility to deliver that reassurance ourselves to those in need. While we may not know the precise details of others’ struggles, we can be sure that they are facing pain, loneliness, anxiety, and shame. Therefore, it can make a big difference if we say something, however modest, to bring reassurance into their day.