Sunday, January 22, 2017
Fear is a crazy thing. As I've been encountering my own spiritual re-evaluation over the past 18 months, I've found myself exploring which belief systems do and do not work for me, and it has been absolutely terrifying. I've said this many times over the past 18 months... I COMPLETELY understand why people don't change. To step away from self-serving, fear-based thought-patterns and move towards new behaviours, when those thought-patterns were the only things that kept me safe as a child??? Are you KIDDING me?? The devil we don't know is 1000x scarier than the devil we know. I GET why people don't change. In the time since having 3 pretty intense shall-we-call-them-"spiritual"-experiences, most pre-2015 truths that were rock-solid have since dissolved, and things I wouldn't have even considered have become a very real part of my filter. Maybe I'll blog about that more one day... but suffice it to say, there's a lot I'm unclear about right now.
BUT. One constant truth has emerged in my insatiable research these days: that we NEED each other to survive. it appears the the only way we can evolve - indeed, the only way we have survived this far - is through trust, empathy, and compassion. It appears we cannot evolve as a species without these characteristics. We've got tiny little bodies, no claws, fangs, or fur, poor eyesight, and these huge heads. How else are we supposed to kill a bear if we don't have group strategy??
The aforementioned absurdist "comedies" serve to remind us that without accessing our evolved frontal cortex, the centre for "WE" thinking, we become fear-based, self-serving, and manipulative. Not just on the individual front... but as a WHOLE. Believe or don't believe in the law of attraction... I feel it's safe to say that we are inter-connected... our thoughts and actions can directly influence those around us. ESPECIALLY vulnerable groups like children.
Our society is flawed and distorted. Perhaps it always will be. With our material needs met, the First World's evolutionary impulses step into overdrive. Combined with not NEEDING our neighbours to help us harpoon dinner, and with the Industrial Revolution's move into large cities and nuclear families, our tribal empathy and support systems have all but disappeared. Great for technology. Terrible for our brains.
I am moving into learning more and more about mental health, of my own propensity towards anxiety and compulsive behaviours, and the remedy for that. Turns out I can't heal anxiety on my own. When I'm in the midst of an anxiety attack, the ONLY way out of my thoughts is calling somebody else who can talk me through it. If not a friend or fellow, it's a Crisis Line. My thoughts get distorted and if I don't ask for a trustworthy's person help, who knows what will happen. What works for me is thinking of my mental health as one that carries a spiritual disease: I do have preventative medicine available (therapy, meetings)... and when I'm stable, there's some leeway on my routine. But if I go long without this medicine of other people's healthy thinking to bolster my own, or the ability to be kind and compassionate to others, I can slip right back into the self-serving-ness so quickly I won't even know what happens. How "amusing" that the very thing that is our evolutionary protection (fear-based ego), can actually lead to our downfall.
With the help of my kind, caring network of strong people around me, I seem to be doing ok right now. I mean, I HATE the winter, so ask me again in 6 weeks, but cultivating compassionate tribe has been a crucial part of moving through my own self-destructive periods. And likewise, the times that I've found a way to remember to channel kindness and compassion towards others, I've felt the intensity of emotional/mental pain cool and maybe even be replaced by a different, more pleasant, feeling.
It's been said that pain and struggle exists because without it, we would not have compassion. I'd like to buy that, but the skeptic in me is still unsure. I've had some pretty intense pain and struggle in my time, and it is PEANUTS compared to what some other humans go through. So for me to use that as a blanket statement for why the world is as it is feels callous and negligent. This goes back to me not knowing a god-damed thing about the world.
But here's what I do know: I have some very important mentors who have either lived longer than me on this earth, who have lived through at least what I'm going through if not worse, or both... and have lived to tell the tale. The people who pull me through are those who can say, "Me Too!". I don't even care about getting advice, when I'm in that place, usually... I just know that if somebody hasn't experienced what I've experienced, they simply won't help me get through the thing I'm getting through. But if they have, and I feel safe around them, I open up just a little bit. And maybe even heal. Or whatever.
So... do I have an end for this blog? A Happy Ending? Or an answer for our terrifying shared reality of the Inauguration of He Who Shall Not Be Named? Not really. Except that the sun came up today, and there's a lot I don't have control over, even from day to day (depending on my mental health state), but there will always be even a little something I have control over, and that's enough for today.
A lot of this blog was influenced by this article here, which is worth a read in our scary world events right now, and contains a link to a TED talk. It also is prompting a lot of my own personal research into Joseph Campbell, so if you have any articles around the work he's done, send 'em my way.
Posted by Megan Phillips at 1:14 PM