be the bear.

“Be the bear.”

That’s what I suggested to my dad a few weeks ago when he was debating about how to approach a difficult and sensitive situation. “Dad,” I texted, “You should be the bear.”

Having just watched the short animated YouTube video, Brene Brown on Empathy, this seemed like the most logical way to proceed. In the video, the bear character demonstrates empathy when his friend needs him most, when she feels most alone. Dad watched the video and seemed to agree with this sentiment for the most part. I did a fist pump in the air and said out loud (to no one), “Yes! Be the bear!”

It’s been a few weeks since that interaction and I’ve thought a lot about “Be the bear.” It’s allowed me to reflect upon the following:

  • Do I truly have empathy for others?
  • Am I able to consistently enter into one’s suffering without judgement or an agenda?
  • Am I able to just listen without filling the empty quiet space with useless advice? 

Not always. But I am working on it.

This morning, when I went into my son’s room to make his bed, something, er, someone, struck me. I present…Chicago Bear.

IMG_0887
Chicago Bear and Blankie

We “built” Chicago Bear six years ago when we were only weeks away from moving from Chicago to Fairfield. Only two years old at the time, our son had zero interest in football or the Chicago Bears. However, there was a reason for my choice. I selected this particular bear because of my love of the team and what the Bears represented to our friends and family. Holding on to that piece of my history made me feel less nervous about our move and I loved the idea of passing those traditions down to our kids. Chicago Bear sleeps next to our son every single night, regardless of where he is sleeping. And, CB greets me with that goofy grin every morning too. Looking at the dog-hair-covered-fleece and his ruffled fur, I realized, Hey, he’s sorta like the bear in the empathy video and here’s why:

Chicago Bear…

…is always there for you (unless he accidentally falls between the bed and the wall).

…is always willing to listen.

…is soft and very hug-able.

…does not give bad advice.

…is never without a smile.

…does not judge (he never makes remarks about morning breath, crazy hair, B taking up the whole bed, etc.).

…provides you with a sense of comfort and security.

…never interrupts you.

…does not get angry when you’ve thrown up on him (a couple of times).

…is love.

Crazy that a little old bear propped up on top of my sons’ pillows can inspire so much. But, it’s true – sometimes the most simple things have the biggest influence on our lives.

So, I not only aspire to be a good (decent) mom, wife, friend, sister, counselor, student, writer, suicide prevention advocate, kindness activist, etc…I now aspire to be the bear.

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