We, as a nation, cannot collectively say “enough,” because we are repeating in endless loop-backs the first stages of the grief process: shock, denial, anger, confusion, bargaining. We are so deep in our grief we cannot detach ourselves from it, we are blinded by it so much we cannot see there is anything beyond it, only more grief. Visions of a positive future are discounted.
This is despair, hopelessness and the precursor to suicide on the installment plan. The paradox of American culture in particular is our taboo on public display of grief which keeps us extremely stuck in ever more violence.
My hope is this: “It’s the awareness, the full experience . . . of how you are stuck, that makes you recover.” — Frederick S. Perls.
If you have ever lost a pet or loved one, you may have had the experience of “moving on” with your life. Maybe you lost your favorite automobile in an accident, or your house burned down. Those are pretty big traumas, but there are many other, smaller ones, throughout our lives.
We lose our phones, our socks, even flowers — all these mortal things — and we “get over it” we integrate a lesson or some wisdom, we make meaning from it, we grow in personal resilience. We are always in transition. Some little ones, some big ones. Part of maturity is repeating the grief process so many times that we develop integration skills, or resilience. “Letting go” is not denial, it’s not forgetting, it’s learning. It’s also humility, setting aside our self-importance of being a victim long enough to realize we have something to contribute to our social milieu, our community.
The biggest obstacle to letting go is our shame, our belief that we are not enough: we are especially cursed and condemned to repeating trauma and grief, ever more grief, endless grief. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it is the social agreement that perpetuates our culture of violence.
I derived this graph of my emotions since the time of my birth that included some very big ups and downs yet ultimately led me to suicidal ideation. From what I’ve heard from many other people, this pathway is very common. My very first steps in turning that around was to stop everything, sit down, shut up, and just observe myself, inventory my thoughts and behaviors, and witness my anger, my upset, and my utter sadness. I cried alot.
It got much easier when I realized I was not alone, that there were hundreds and millions of people engaged in exactly the same struggle. I could actually ask for help from people who had a little more experience with this terrifying journey. I could even help someone who had less experience! This journey, then, is not all about me and my personal suffering, it’s about all of us. We are doing this together.
Learning deep truths is deeply painful because we lose the stability of certainty, become very disoriented, and experience ourselves as falling off a cliff with no information about how to fly or how to land. There is also the grief about the lies we’ve been told, somewhat unconsciously, under the assumption that we would benefit from believing them. The lies are the social agreements about what are normal, healthy ways of navigating our way in this world, what is “success.”
Beliefs are usually replaced by other beliefs, intellectual assent to new ideas that seem to make better logical meaning of what is happening to us. Eventually, we are forced to let go of all dogma and rely on our inner experience, our intuition, instead of anything rational.
By our conventional social definitions, this is crazy, taboo, and dangerous, so only people who have some secure anchor to some other, transcendent dimension are willing to even attempt such a departure. Sometimes that dimension is accessed through other people, sometimes through animals, trees or other parts of the natural world, sometimes through disciplined spiritual practices that are external to any religious ritual or dogma. Religions have always distorted spirituality in their well-meaning attempt to interpret, communicate and expand it. It cannot be interpreted, only experienced!
We humans prefer stability, predictability, and routine expectations. We do not seek answers or let go of old belief systems until we encounter an existential crisis, a threat of massive proportions, a breakdown. Our social evolution parallels individual learning pathways, and moves quickly, radically, to a new level once the crisis is fully seen and accepted for what it is. In an era of rapid change, the process of evolution via crisis has not changed.
Of course, if our despair blinds us to new possibilities, we will die, that is for sure. The ultra-wealthy who appear to be in control of our fate are just as deeply immersed in this crisis of ignorance, just as powerless, as we are. The statement, “We are all in this together,” has never been more true. We can see ourselves as victims of the change or part of the change. It’s a conscious choice whether to make the waves of trauma and suffering greater or lesser.
Peace is inevitable. It is the natural outcome of endless war. War is a belief system about wealth, racism, and militarism. Beliefs can change in an instant under the right conditions. Those conditions are being created now, today, and the hoped-for tipping point seems to be near, but we won’t really know until it happens. What seems ever more true is that we know it will not happen without OUR participation in the party. Happiness = participation.
Willis Harman said, “The negative belief that peace is not possible is the greatest impediment to achieving peace.”
I suggest that each one of us make a list on paper of all the ways in which we are stuck, all the ways in which we have failed to implement our dreams, ALL of them.
Shame is the belief that we are not enough, we are miserable victims of this world, we don’t belong here, we have no part of this train-wreck, no ability to respond with strength and wisdom, we are nothing.
List on paper all the ways you believe how small you are. Then start another list of the proofs you have experienced throughout your life where those beliefs did not hold.
Case closed. This is it, in short:
Blow your own mind.