We live in a world where there is a lot out of alignment. Meaning, there is a lot of pain and suffering going on within the human race that is coming from our misunderstandings about ourselves and how reality functions. As this is what is at the ROOT of all suffering - seeing the world as one way, when it is really another.
Our inability to recognize our oneness with all other beings, with the planet, with the plants and animals, our fear of lack and scarcity, our awareness of death that leads us into deep existential crisis mode, our attempts at controlling outcomes through dominance - are all a part of what makes life as a human so painful.
At the same time, we humans have a resistance to seeing where we have been wrong, where we have been misperceiving life, where we have been interpreting things wrong, where we have been causing harm when we 'thought' we were doing the right thing - essentially to seeing where we are acting out of sync with reality.
The reasons for this resistance are deep and complex. For most of us, admitting fault means admitting that *we* as *people* are BAD. To admit that we are making mistakes is to admit that we are fundamentally unworthy of LOVE - we fear rejection deeply and for most of us the recognition of mistake comes with blame and shame, thus we resist. We fear the loss of connection that to our nervous systems = death.
We also fear that if what we are doing is WRONG then we have to CHANGE - and that again is admitting that who and what we were before was wrong and bad. That we were unworthy THEN and that is something we never want to admit, again, because for us it means death.
We are also a species that is quite traumatized - so when we think we have the ways of the world sorted out we are VERY resistant to learning that we have to adjust our world view to include new and different information. It threatens our security that we have things figured out - and thus can be SAFE and can PREDICT our environment - to admit that the way we were seeing things was false and now we have to figure out a new way.
Generally when we learn that what we are doing is out of sync with reality, the TRUTH is not automatically apparent. Rather we 'lose' what we thought we knew, and we step into 'not knowing' and THAT is horrifying for us. Most of us don't believe we can figure things out, expand, find a new answer or way of being that's better than what we have. All we feel is the shame and guilt that we were wrong, the fear of losing love, the fear of not knowing that is right or what to do and that lack of trust in self to be able to find any new or better way.
Which leads me to todays topic.
Our current social environment is one centered on fear. For the most part, our systems and modes of being are all built on a history of misalignment, abuse, exploitation and harm. Again there is a REASON the human race is in so much pain - part of it is due to the fact that life has simply been HARD for us within the context of nature and earth being a very challenging place to be, and part of it is due to all that WE have done and built from that trauma and fear that caused FURTHER trauma and fear.
The ways in which we have harmed one another, harmed the earth, built systems and habits that - for all intents and purposes - have served the seeming immediate goal of 'survival' with long term consequences.
But seeing this, understanding where we have been going wrong, understanding the harm we have caused one another and ourselves as we have clamored to figure out how to survive - requires that we deeply understand and admit that while we all believe we are doing the right thing - in many cases as far as REALITY is concerned - we aren't.
When we are not capable of admitting these flaws in our way of being - of seeing the DAMAGE our ways of being have caused - this is not really because we don't want something better. I don't even believe it's because we don't know on some level that things aren't quite right. *MOST* people on this planet, if they were to get very honest with themselves, feel pain. Feel struggle. Feel fear. Are living from a place of trying to keep their heads above water. Those with the most and those with the least all have a general sense of dis-ease - one they may cover up with a plethora of distractions or that they are acutely aware of - and this is coming from our innate connection to reality.
We can FEEL when things are off.
And yet, we resist. We fight to maintain what is. We work to prove our rightness and goodness - all because we are TRAUMATIZED.
Today I want to explore why so many people are working so hard to maintain the status quo of our society in the face of obvious evidence that our status quo is harmful. Why we shame, blame, attack, belittle and otherwise try to write off those who are crying out for change due to their obvious pain and suffering. Why people are so resistant to looking at how their way of being is harmful - both for themselves and others - and why childhood trauma is at the ROOT of all of this.
Attacking Those In Pain Is A Sign Of TRAUMA:
Anytime anyone lashes out at, condemns, attacks or looks to belittle/discredit someone for calling out an injustice/pain they are experiencing - that person is working from internalized childhood trauma.
Meaning, this person when faced with the pain/complaint of another, is going to be feeling inside themselves (under their rage or outright rejection/desire to deflect and defend themselves or the goodness of what currently is) shame, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, broken, bad or like they are being BLAMED for what’s wrong.
THIS is at the root of their counter attack, as it were.
Their inner feelings that what’s being brought to the surface is a narrative about them, their goodness, and is a threat their current WORLD VIEW that they find necessary for orienting life and feeling like a good person. As this get’s challenged, the shame and guilt manifest as anger and defense. Their view of themselves. Their view of the systems they are participating in. Their view of reality itself. When we are met with the idea that we are causing harm in ways we didn't know we were this triggers SO MUCH shame and guilt in us that we either spiral into deep cycles of self hate OR look to reject, deny and deflect at all costs - again because this GUILT and SHAME to our nervous systems = DEATH. It means rejection, and rejection means lack of provision, and lack of provision means we don't survive. Even though we are now adults in adult bodies, most of us haven't processed through that childhood trauma of rejection = death - and thus we get triggered into FLASHBACK mode when we feel that impending sense of 'you are doing something wrong.'
This happens because in childhood this is what was modeled to us.
Those who choose the route of attacking and belittling those that are crying out for change due to pain, were either attacked, belittled, shamed or rejected by THEIR caregivers when they spoke up or cried out in pain at their caregivers knowing or unknowing harm/lack of ability to SOOTHE their children's pain - due to their caregivers internalizing their pain/outcry for change as a sign that THEY were bad and wrong - and that was too much to digest so they projected it back onto their child, shaming and rejecting them. If a child was shamed every time they were in pain and their caregivers internalized that and projected it back onto them - telling the child that they were broken/bad/needy/needed to toughen up/it was THEIR fault that they were in pain - and worse if they were told that their pain was causing pain for their caregivers - they would have learned this defense when faced with their own harm.
Or the caregiver felt HELPLESS and thus turned these complaints/pain that the child was expressing into a narrative that the child is somehow broken, and COULDN'T be fixed. Their mode would have been to ignore all pain and issues due to this feeling of helplessness when problems arise. When things are pointed out it only leads to more suffering because problems can’t be solved and now we are all just left here looking at it - will have been the pattern. This would lead to a caregiver that denied pain, ignored cries from their children, thus teaching their kids that there is never any 'solution' to pain - only ABANDONMENT. There may not have been outright rejection but that LACK of being held, cared for or helped in finding a solution is equally traumatizing. Thus when this person as an adult is faced with the harm they are causing, they will go into shutdown/projection because to them, solutions don't exist.
Or their caregiver modeled that if something is going wrong, if there is pain, that this means that they themselves are bad and guilty, taking on that shame and guilt and showing the child that this is what it means when we learn that things aren’t working/aren’t what we thought they were. The parent modeled going into shame and guilt thus teaching the child to do the same.
If this is how we learned to face our world view being shaken by someones pain, how we learned to protect ourselves from the threat that someone 'calling out' our behaviour or our way of life as being harmful to them, how we learned to see problems - by feeling shameful and guilty and then going into defense - this is what we will do as adults. We will lash out. Attack back. Deny. Deflect. Demand that they are wrong. Blame them for causing problems for expressing their pain and asking for pain.
Learned defense behaviour for internalized shame/feeling helpless.
We Can't Invent Pain That Doesn't Exist - But We Can Misunderstand Pain:
In reality, when someone is crying out - there IS a problem.
Something is hurting them.
People don’t ‘invent pain.’
That being said, sometimes our pain is coming from a misunderstanding of what's actually occurring in reality, or is coming from PAST traumas being triggered by current circumstances.
Sometimes the outcry’s and call out’s are warranted and we who are witnessing/being called out DO need to change to make this world a better place - we are causing harm we didn’t know we were causing or knew but didn’t know how bad/how to fix it.
When we are in our non-traumatized adult perspectives - we won’t ever shame, belittle or attack someone’s cry for pain - no matter how personally they may be ‘attacking’ us or how violent the expression appears to be. Same goes for violent offenders - we will see that they are coming from THEIR trauma, no matter how barbaric their behaviour. We will know this doesn’t excuse the behaviour or make it any less terrible, nor does it mean that we don't take action to either protect ourselves or work to rehabilitate the person who's in that state of causing harm due to their trauma IF POSSIBLE (Which it isn't always) - but we won’t be able to shame someone or label anyone a ‘bad’ person - we will just see trauma. Maybe trauma that can’t ever be rehabbed, but we will never see evil ever again.
Rather, we will be able to go into ourselves and love ourselves safe.
In the context of being on the receiving end of the abuse, this may mean removing ourselves, putting up strong boundaries, requiring changed behaviour for continued relating and understanding our own right to safety and taking steps towards creating that for ourselves within the context of the abusive person being who and what they are. Again this recognition that it is all coming from trauma does NOT mean letting it happen. It simply means we no longer see 'evil' where we are really looking at patterns of trauma passed down through abuse.
If we are the ones being called out, we will be able to establish that even if we ARE a part of the problem right now, even if we do need to change - this doesn’t mean that WE are fundamentally BAD. If we are unsure of what to do to fix things, again, this doesn’t mean things are hopeless and we should just demand that the person shut up or give us the answer. We will have the capacity to OPEN to what’s being said so we can actually FIND OUT what’s happening, why and what can be done. We will be solution focused not defense focused. We will have enough security that change doesn’t have to destroy our sense of self or orientation in the world.
Then we will be able to really LISTEN to what is being said. To dig deep PAST the scary external expressions that may be strong, aggressive or full of deep, dark, messy, unprocessed trauma - and we will be able to sort through what’s real, what’s trigger, what’s past trauma, what’s currently happening and where we can be a part of the solution.
This sometimes means listening.
Letting the other get it out.
Sometimes coming up with solutions.
Sometimes changing how we act.
Sometimes changing our world view.
Going through a process to discover what’s really going on an all the layers involve.
Sometimes all of it.
When we are not working from OUR trauma, we will be able to listen. To hear. To empathize. To change. To problem solve. To look for alternatives that we have never seen before. To understand WHY we were/are doing what we are, where our world view needs to be expanded to include the consequences of our actions on a larger population, and where we can get our needs met in HIGHER more ALIGNED ways.
Because again, EVERYTHING that ANYONE is doing is rooted in their desire to SURVIVE. Everyone is simply doing what they believe deep down in their nervous systems that they MUST do to get their needs met. This is another reason we resist the callout so much - when we first learn that our way of doing things is harmful, what this means to us is that we have to change and we are then going to LOSE what we are GETTING from living this way. We are going to LOSE the BENEFITS of the behaviour and now we are going to have to GO WITHOUT. We must understand that there is ALWAYS a positive intention in everything we are doing. Thus when we are shown that something we are doing is harmful, we must ask ourselves what NEEDS we are meeting through this behavior, so we can then start to PROBLEM SOLVE new ways of meeting those same needs WITHOUT causing the harm we are causing. We must soothe the inner child that knows no other way right now, that thinks change = going without. THIS is the big key for being able to move forward. What am I getting out of this and how can I meet this need in a less harmful way? THAT'S how we soothe the traumatized nervous system.
We feel trapped when we get called out again, because we are usually UNCONSCIOUS of the need we have, UNCONSCIOUS Of how our behaviour is meeting it, UNCONSCIOUS that the call out is triggering a survival reaction in us that to change = not getting that need met, and UNCONSCIOUS of how to problem solve this so that we get the same needs met without the trauma. We need to process this in order to be able to be a proactive member of an evolving society.
When we can make ourselves safe in this way, we will be able to validate even if we don’t agree with the others point of view or believe that how they are SEEING their pain is correct. We will be able to hold space and change if we need to. To find the truth trough the pain.
We may not agree, we may not see things as they do, we may see that their trauma is clouding their perception. We may learn that we were indoctrinated into a way of life that causes harm and that we need to change. We may learn that our world view needs shifting. ALL of that will be ok, when we are starting from adult self love and not inner child trauma.
We will be able to empathize first. Then look for solutions. Which sometimes can be changing ourselves and other times knowing that we aren’t actually a part of what’s happening for the person crying out and that what they need is support from someone else to process their pain.
Either way, we will have no need to shame, defend or belittle.
We will be able to validate and make space.
THAT is the adult perspective.