I am writing with a very heavy heart. The current state our nation is in reminds me so much of my childhood and growing up with oppression and discrimination. No, this was not based on the color of my skin but my ethnic background. We cannot forget that discrimination, oppression, and being part of a marginalized population group is not always about race and the color of our skin.
It is hard to see the hatred, violence, and division caused by something that needs to be addressed. Changes need to happen, but not in a way where we are hurting each other more. Equality will not happen by creating more hatred and divisions. We must unite for this righteous cause and fight a good fight in a way where we are creating changes for all of us as well as for generations to come in such a way that they will look back with pride and honor. Change happens when a tiny little pebble is dropped in a pond. It then will cause ripples which then can spread and perhaps create a tsunami. We have to turn things around and find a better progression in life.
We as human beings tend to evolve, right? Let’s think about this a little. Let’s just look at ourselves and that progression. Think about yourself when you were a child; your views, your concepts, your outlook on life was immature. Or was it just pure and uninhibited? As William Shakespeare put it: “there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
When we were small, we just did things, explored. We did not focus so much on the negatives or positives of our lives; we just lived. We were influenced by things all around us, but had no real knowledge of the rights or wrongs our culture and society would impose on us yet.
But as we matured our social norms began to influence all of our beliefs and actions. Would you agree that our thoughts are shaped mostly by these foundations? I am not saying that this is right or flawed, but we know that all social norms have these grounding bases. As we grow we become, hopefully, more and more aware of “self” and our high arousal states are easier to recognize and even can be corrected if need be.
If we, as human beings, remain stagnant in development what have we accomplished with the years we have lived? In our high arousal states we tend to explore and grow in an uninhibited state. We then hit a low arousal state where we reflect on all our actions, experiencing feelings based on our state of raised awareness of right and wrong.
I recall experiencing states of emotional hijacking in which fear and anger placed me in a state of fight or flight, that process being such a strong part of PTSD. I did not know all of this then. I do now, and each day has become a struggle of breaking the learned patterns and creating new ways for me and for my loved ones to move forward. Do we ever reach a complete state of emotional intelligence and regulation? Perhaps eventually we will choose the behaviors which support our current state of self in strong emotional and mental health.
When we change is it hard for others to accept us. I find that my 20-year-old self was not at all the same as my 53-year-old self. For that matter, as I look back, I can see the change each decade brought for me. The coherence I have comes from having a strong sense about my life and the experiences which shaped me in each phase of my life.
Thankfully, and by the grace of God, this is never-ending if we strive to do and be better people. To me being “better people” is about the body, mind, and soul, not at all about the material wealth one might accumulate. That is not what makes us better people. Those things are a matter of a lifestyle we strive for; outside comforts that we seek and want.
Why am I writing about this? Because it truly is fitting with my current state of mind. We recently went away for the weekend and as I was paddling my kayak in the middle of nowhere, I managed to do a lot of reflecting. I checked the state of my ego and decided that a couple of things that I need to work on right now are judgment and compassion. Less judgment and more compassion.
How do we reach that optimal balance of thinking and acting? How do we reach that balance of emotional intelligence to integrate these in our day to day lives? I had more questions than answers, but ultimately I came away knowing that I can do better, I can be better. I truly want to reach a state in which I respond more effectively to my emotions and to those of others. Our thoughts are powerful tools of change and I always said when you know better you should do better.
Here I am again at some major crossroads where my current state of being will grow and evolve into another state of a better self. I will take you all on this journey with me and share the struggles and the joys of becoming...I have no idea where this journey will take me but I do know it will be to a better self.
As with any state of growth, we find that we must accommodate the needs of our current state of being . What does that mean? We seek out our physical environment; this is so important in supporting change and growth. We become very vulnerable as we go within. If we do not surround ourselves with those who will support our growth, how can we grow? To become a better self we must allow the past and our current state to be stepping stones of change which catapult us into our new, future, state.
The greatest and hardest anchor to this growth is judgment of self, of shame and guilt. But to me if you are experiencing these feelings, it means you now know better. You now must do better at trying to forgive your old self just the same as you would anyone else in your life. When you do this you are allowing yourself to become a better person without holding yourself a prisoner, full of judgement to the past.
This is where your physical environment and that tribe you are around matters. They, too, must recognize your growth. They, too, must change and support this progress and the ultimate new current you. I say current you because we are, of course, always in a continuous state of evolving; feeling stronger and gaining a deeper sense of self-understanding. Evolving yet again...continuing a cycle...the social connection must support who you are now.
I hope this spoke to some of you and I encourage you to look within, love yourself, forgive yourself, and challenge yourself to do better as you can, where you are. Peace, love, and joy to you.