Can Facing Our Emotions Create A Better World?

Disconnection From Others Absolves Us From Responsibility and Facing Our Real Emotions

"People need to believe they live in a just world."  Melvin Lerner

Melvin Lerner was a Social Psychologist and pioneer in the study of Social Justice.  He developed the “Just World” hypothesis.  He suggested that people are most comfortable when they have a sense of control over their lives, and that we need to believe that good things happen to good people and bad people are punished.  Effectively, it's the idea that “people get what they deserve.” We might need to blame people in a state of misfortune, in order to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable or unsafe.

We're Conditioned From Birth

How many times were you told as a child that if you did what you “should” or if you did the “right” thing (often putting your natural impulses or desires to one side) you would be rewarded? How many times were you punished for doing “bad” things, or scolded for not doing what you “should”?

This need for a JUST WORLD is programed into us from birth. It’s almost unavoidable until identify it, acknowledge it and scrutinize it until we know what we believe deep down inside.  

What Emotions Does Dis-empowerment Fuel?

It seems that the more strict or rigid the society we grow up in, the more likely we are to suffer the extreme emotions of dis-empowerment. And why do we want to move out of dis-empowerment?  Take a moment to look at the emotions below to appreciate how current events are triggered.

There are a few feelings that develop from dis-empowerment. They are deeply unhelpful to carry in our day to day lives.

  • Jealousy
  • Envy
  • Sadness
  • Apathy
  • Rage and hatred
  • Inability to take responsibility
  • Feeling a victim of circumstance – why me?

So, I’m sure you can appreciate how our world has become what it is.

Separation From Ourselves Helps Us Deal With Atrocities

Have you ever walked past a homeless person or a beggar and said to yourself “get a job” or wondered if they’d done something wrong? Honestly, the worst version of me has. You might stop the thought in progress, however, the idea may well be there on some level.  It certainly doesn't come from a compassionate and connected place.

We have become so accustomed to blocking our emotions, that “another mass shooting in America” is diminished to just an item on the news checklist.  Furthermore, we seem to accept the idea that rape victims may not get justice if they were dressed "inappropriately", or they did something “wrong”.  How CRAZY is that?

We freely accept political ideas until belated consideration.  What’s more, we tolerate leaders prioritizing power over leadership; because we feel dis-empowered through separation from our real selves.  We've allowed artificial intelligence into the court system, proliferating the prejudice problem.  Now, people of certain race and gender are pre-judged by the binary code version of human programmers.  We're applying black and white thinking to a world with a plethora of shades of gray.

The status quo of injustice is okay, so long as we can disconnect , by putting a wall between us and it.  A glass window of political correctness.

Seeing someone in a terrible state is easier to tolerate or ignore if we think they’re to blame for their misfortune.  We judge to FEEL SAFE.  We judge to FEEL STRONG.  We judge because we grasp at the idea that it makes us UNTOUCHABLE.

Punishment Is No Solution

Even though our first reaction, to hate crimes against innocent victims, may be to drop the perpetrator into the lagoon adjacent to North Sentinel Island, this is only a short term solution.  Just like nature, everything grows back.  You can prune a plant and new growth appears just days later. Besides, the laws of physics teach us that fighting punishment or hate with punishment or hate creates even more resistance and magnifies the problem, in the long run.  It might be time to admit that we may have misinterpreted the concept of “an eye for an eye” in ancient texts.  Could it have referred to mutual trust and respect rather than vengeance?

If we really want to stop the seed from growing, we have to cut it right back to the root.  We can take the time to understand what types of nurture and environment create the extreme motivation to attack another human being; physically, verbally or with thought projection.

We could educate minds before they are set in stone.  And like any human, real knowing arrives only with personal experience and emotional connection.  So, we have to allow others to really know the perspective of the idea/person/concept they believe should be punished, or fought against.  We must stop shying away from discomfort, and stare it right in the face until we realize that where there is discomfort, there is also comfort.  Where there is atrocity there is also not atrocity.  And we are ALL capable of duality, and much, much more.  Take a look at the Stanley Milgram experiment if you don't believe we're capable of the full spectrum of behavior.

Once we accept THAT, we are empowered to acknowledge the choice.

Should We Drown In Sorrow For All Wrongdoings?

Quite simply, NO.   Taking the weight of the world on our shoulders is as equally unhelpful as dropping a mass murderer in the lagoon next to North Sentinel Island.  Living in misery in reaction to all the “terrible” things that happen on the planet is just another way to fuel dis-empowerment and bring us, full circle, to where we already are, right now.

It can be useful to acknowledge our real emotional reactions to life events.  Then to acknowledge the emotion behind that emotion, and follow the process until we can identify the root of what we’re really feeling.  This identification can free us to release any whirling confusion that may be masking the real issue.  It frees us to connect to real emotion and then let it go.  We’re liberated by connecting to a REAL experience. 

Have You Ever Been Mugged?

Let me give you an example.  If we're mugged in the street and someone takes our purse or wallet, our immediate reaction is either fight or flight.  It's primal.  Present.  In the moment.  Then we feel anger, which is probably masking fear and feelings of violation or vulnerability; a lack of safety.  If we're able to see through the anger, we can acknowledge the feelings of fear and vulnerability driving that anger.  What would happen if we were to sit in a room with the perpetrator and ask them "why did you do it?"  What if the perpetrator was to explain that they were desperate for food for their family and they had tried everything but couldn't see another way?  Perhaps nothing more than additional anger.  Or perhaps, we might think to ourselves, "wow they needed it more than I did."  We might even say "I wish you'd just asked me for the money", to which they might respond "I've asked you every day for the last 3 month and you've never seen me".  Just an open dialogue can give both parties an insightful wake-up call; both previously blind to the perspective of each other.  

Insight and understanding does create a window of opportunity for compassion, doesn't it?  Just a glimmer of insight can enable our ability to acknowledge that there is balance in all of us, good and bad, light and dark, duality and more.

When we feel free and empowered we are less likely to REACT or resist.  When we can acknowledge that there is positive where there is negative, we are less likely to resist the negative.  We have no charge or resistance when faced with it.  The result is that we give it no energy force to LIVE in our reality.

How Can Individual Change Create A More Palatable World?

So, how can we change our thinking to create a better world?

1) We can learn to access our own vulnerability. To acknowledge that anyone can find themselves in any state – even you, even me.  To learn to feel safe, even in chaos or misfortune.

2) If we can even the playing field and see the personal power in everyone – we can minimize the illusions of status based on tangibles.

3) We can work towards a less rigid “right” and “wrong” framework in society. We can teach the next generation about shades of grey. We can acknowledge that I am you and you are me and we are connected.

4) In many societies today, vulnerability is still seen as a sign of weakness, rather than a strong road to connection. Vulnerable people are attacked or diminished because it’s safer for them to be stigmatized than connected to everyone else.

How long will we choose to live in illusion, rather than find the courage to face our emotions; and our real selves?

Are you ready to remove your safety belt?  Are you ready to face what really is, release your resistance and give life energy to the reality you want to experience?

Do You Want To Smash Through The Illusion of Your Social Conditioning?

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This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.