What can we do to avoid historian’s predictions of Holocaust-like-history repeating itself? As individuals? How can we tap into the loving, expansive, inclusive, generous parts of ourselves and humanity instead of giving into fear and loathing?
Yes, there are petitions and demonstrations.
But what about the rest of our lives? The gazillions of thoughts and beliefs we rarely even notice but which contribute to our experience and the way we relate to others?
Apart from sending Metta to places we feel helpless around, we can take a look at our own shadow stuff.
I read an interesting piece by Deepak Chopra today on Donald Trump being a manifestation of America’s shadow.
We all have our shadow aspects and they’re not easy to recognise when we’re caught up in them.
Just as we all have the potential to do amazing things with our one, precious life, we could find ourselves in unimaginable circumstances and be capable of the worst, least imaginable acts.
When we notice them, we can integrate them by owning what we’ve been repressing in ourselves and projecting onto the other.
Something we can all do is pause before posting or speaking or lashing out in any way.
Notice where our shadow might be in that moment.
Who are we most angry with right now?
What does he or she represent to us?
What hidden aspects of ourselves resonates with what they’re doing?
How does it feel to own that feeling? To acknowledge that at some point, we’ve all felt homicidal?
Again, I’m not at all advocating acting on such feelings. Oddly, making this more conscious means we’re less likely to act out aggressively.
It can be scary.
I’m a pacifist by nature. I wish we could all just get along. We’re all the same. Where we were born had nothing to do with us. Hippie, peace, love, blah…
Years ago, I learned that trying to send peace and love to people who were annoying me was, frankly, beyond me. I think Metta’s wonderful but even that varies day to day. This was years ago and I eventually realised that owning the fury, the rage, the anger and the despair was freeing.
Obviously, I’m not talking about acting on any of this. But recognising however we’re feeling and letting that be OK actually enables the feelings to move through us more quickly than when we try to deny them.
So writing this, thinking about certain politicians and their seemingly bullyish ways, I can either judge them and pretend it’s all about them or be open to acknowledging that bully part of myself.
The part that I don’t want to acknowledge I have yet that I realise of course I do, otherwise it wouldn’t upset me so much to see it in others.
Once I’ve done this, I can better see how I am connected to, for example, a politician. Or someone who votes differently to me. Or a terrorist. Or a serial killer. Or someone who puts his or her feet on the seats on public transport. Or child or animal abuser. Or any number of people I don’t want to think I have anything in common with.
As with everything, it’s a practice. But the more I do this, the less likely I am to add fuel to the emotional fires of the world right now with mean, small minded, unpleasant posts (I’m deleting A Lot).
Embracing our shadows not only helps us integrate and be more whole ourselves but we’re better able to reach out to others with compassion and kindness.
And this depends on us embracing our shadows (rather than beating ourselves up for not being saints, having said shadows).
Who are you most angry with right now? Who do you hate?
How does it feel to own that hatred and fury in yourself? (If a lot is coming up, you might want to work with a therapist – use all available support.)
Personally speaking, just through drafting this post, I’m feeling something closer to empathy for certain politicians than I’ve previously been able to feel.
How about you?
Feel free to comment below.