Today I was confronted in so many ways. For the most part I kept my centre. Here are some of the deep things I explored with other people, throughout the day, in various ways:
The impact of large scale mining operations on the functioning of local businesses… who benefits, who doesn’t; who thrives, who goes under. It was fascinating to hear about the ripple effects throughout the community and the sometimes questionable practises of businesses attempting to make a profit from the situation.
The way our childhood wounds can colour the way we see reality and the way we experience the actions and words of our nearest and dearest. Childhood trauma can become something we accidentally recreate, either by gravitating towards replica relationships dynamics, or by over-reacting. Sometimes we react to the current situations in our lives in very emotive ways, without ever realising the emotion we are experiencing is, to a large extent, being influenced by past traumas. When we get angry at a loved one, how much of that anger is really about what just happened…. and how much of it is about what happened in our last relationship, or what happened in our childhood? We need to know our triggers so we can recognise them. And we need to know our wounds so we can identify when they are colouring our perspective of reality in unhelpful ways.
The inconsistencies in what other people say, and how they behave, can be unsettling sometimes. They say one thing and then five minutes later they contradict themselves. I really struggled today, to understand where someone was coming from, and really had to let go of my concern and step back. Working ourselves out can be a messy process. It’s hard to watch people do this and hurt themselves and others in the process, but that’s how we learn. As a counsellor, especially, I am constantly having to let go of my own moral position and accept where someone is at, even when they are harming others. What often gets me pondering, is the question around how far can this allowing, this observing, this standing-back…. how far can it go? Where is the cut off line? I might have legal guidelines to steer by in my professional life, but in my personal life, are these guidelines still appropriate? They can’t be, because I’m involved, and it’s impossible (even more so than with work), to be completely objective. Existence is, by its very nature, a thoroughly subjective experience.
Today I laughed, when Spirit conspired to tell me to speak up even more, when I have been convinced that most people want me to shut up. I know I would want me to shut up, were I in their shoes, because I used to be in their shoes. I used to have such a strong disliking for activism. If you told me I would become one, I would have been horrified. I wouldn’t have believed you and I would have laughed at you. As with so many identities and people and ways of being in the world, there are definitely times when I am shying away from and judging something, simply because I don’t understand it and it’s been role modelled for me in ways that go against my core values. Take arrogance for example. In a quest to avoid it, we go too far and overdo a humility that can look suspiciously like low self-esteem. And whenever we’re trying too hard to suppress or reject something, it tends to swing back in our face and smack us to the ground. The anti-arrogant spend 80% of the time effacing themselves unnecessarily, often making themselves the victim of other people’s arrogance, thus inadvertently supporting what they want to see less of in the world around them. The other 20% of the time, arrogance suddenly spurts out of these people with force, giving them a nasty fright, a bad public image and even more determination to suppress it. Thus unfolds a vicious cycle. The only solution really is to befriend our enemy (e.g. arrogance) and recognise that it isn’t the completely evil dude we once thought it was. Being afraid of something gives it great power over you. Healthy respect is cool, but fear to the point of demonising something, just leads us into trouble.
I am also deeply contemplating the mirrors in my life. I’m doing a lot of mirror work at the moment (probably thanks to that last full moon!), with my clients, students and myself. Perhaps it’s an extension of my holistic values, my understanding that we are all connected as One. Self and other, other and self. I am connected. I am reflecting other people back to themselves and they are reflecting me back to me. In what ways is this reflection healthy and beautiful, heart-warming, evocative, transformative, healing and so on…..? And when does it somehow cross a line and become toxic, destructive, unbalanced, neurotic, messy, crazy? It seems to me as though our identity is in so many ways informed by our surroundings sand relationships, but it’s also informed by a core inner self, and very definite decisions about what (and who) we choose to identify with and what we reject.
Should we fight for what we believe in? And how do you define ‘fight’?
I have clients who fight for love and at times it seems so hopeless and mental, because the obstacles are staggering and they have no idea what it is they are really fighting for because they don’t really understand themselves, love or what is really happening in the relationship. Nothing I can do, I just surrender and hold space. It will all unfold as it is meant. They fight what seems like a hopeless battle and even though it seems crazy, I would probably do the same. Sometimes it really is a hopeless battle doomed to failure but no one can really know that until it happens. I have seen the most incredible miracles and I have seen really sad and tragic love affairs that destroy lives.
I have clients who are fighting for recognition, fame, success, achievement… I used to be like that once, maybe I still am. Maybe I still will be in the future. The difference is that I see the fragility in it. I see the wounds and drivers that push us all to find in our adult lives what we couldn’t get in childhood: respect, dignity, love, approval, kindness, being liked, being popular, being heard….. Will success and fame and more money provide these feelings? Or will the search be never-ending because the empty hole inside is too large to fill?
My day was filled with kind acts from other people, and touching awkward moments when the assuming of authority befuddled the assumer. It was filled with tender moments of connection between human beings… it strikes me how much kindness comes from saying nothing or finding gentle ways to help people see their own ‘stuff’. We allow each other messy moments, with compassion rather than judgement. Because we’ve had them ourselves.
And I watched ‘Speciesism: the Movie’ tonight. At the end, it made me cry because I could really empathise with how the documenter was feeling. It’s pretty awful when you suddenly realise you are no better than a sexist or a racist. I deeply respect the clients I work with who have the courage to recognise they could just have easily have been the perpetrator, not the victim, or that in fact, they are as much perpetrator as they are victim. That takes guts. It shits me when people never look at their own part in something. It’s always someone else’s fault, problem, responsibility, wound etc
I really understand now, how easy it is to be completely brain-washed by the culture and times you have been raised in. I have a friend who insists we have no free will. Does our conditioning shape every single thought we have? Every action? Every feeling? It is strange to feel at times as though everything is perfectly fine because it’s all exactly the way it’s meant to be and it couldn’t be any other way…. because that is just evolution doing its thing and unfolding from within us, unfolding around us…. And YET…. still feel as though there is a point to speaking up, seeking change. But even that, can’t be helped by some of us. Just as some of us have been conditioned to destroy, some of us have been conditioned to empathise and heal. Our own nature drives us, commands us to care, and insists, even though we know it all had to be like this, that we take some kind of action to instigate healing changes.