Have you ever had a spiritual awakening? It’s been a sorrow fuelled week here. Ghosts who usually leave me in peace were on the haunt. Meaningful dates got the better of me and emotions soared. Overwhelming nostalgia and bone crushing sadness mingled with the rage I usually keep tightly lidded.
But on the positive, there has been no searching for solutions in all the wrong places. No overflowing recycling bins and fuzzy next-day heads. No going over endless old ground or tears of self-pity. Just good old fashioned discomfort. Allowing myself to feel without projecting that pain onto anyone else.
Sitting with discomfort
When I fell into a Brené Brown rabbit hole last year, inhaling everything she’d ever written and watching every video she had appeared in, I learned some exceptionally important lessons which have served me well this strange year. Significant for anyone and everyone, here are my top three takeaways:
Numbing comes in many shapes and sizes. We’re no strangers to the classics (booze, drugs, etc, which come with a whole set of their own, often devastating, problems) but did you know that being busy is also a form of numbing? “When they start AA type meetings for busyness,” Brené laughs on many a podcast, “they’ll fill stadiums.” Keeping distracted might feel like a good solution but troubles rarely disappear by wishing them away. Which means our attention goes to the things we’re keeping busy with and not where it needs to be going.
Sitting with discomfort is the only way through a tough time. Numbing delays the inevitable but the crash and burn will eventually come. And the more we’ve shoved those feelings down, with whatever our poison might be, the harder they become to grapple with. Potentially, through all the numbing, we might have also destroyed valuable relationships along the way. Remember, even the darkest hour only has sixty minutes. Please know that I am not underplaying mental torture. Having been through two full breakdowns, rock bottom and countless mini breakdowns, I feel I can say all this with confidence.
Reframing a mental breakdown as a spiritual awakening is beyond powerful. Breakdowns have such negative connotations but an awakening has myriad enchanting possibilities. When it comes, which it will, viewing our mental health related blip as a spiritual awakening will allow us to accept what’s happened. Then move on from it once it’s been appropriately dealt with.
It’s okay to politely disagree
Shocked, saddened and dismayed by what’s going on online, I wrote this piece about being politically homeless. Although I don’t sugar coat or pussyfoot around, the article took me weeks to edit. Knowing how careful I needed to be with my words I was more cautious than usual before pressing publish.
If you read it and felt triggered or offended it’s because something isn’t quite right within you. This is your inner wisdom alerting you of the need to explore the topic. This article on the ego is well worth a read. Working on our own healing is never easy but it’s always worth it. Remember, none of us is ever entitled to feel offended.
Has 2020 become a referendum on our beliefs? Because it certainly feels this way. Straying from rigid “approved narratives” is not advisable and if you happen to even like a tweet from someone out of favour, then good luck you. Trouble is, one set of values will never work for all people, will they? Which is why we find ourselves agreeing with a person on some things and disagreeing on others.
Putting folks into neatly labelled boxes might simplify things when it comes to slapping them with the nasty words of the day (toxic, bigot, -ist, -phobe) but it doesn’t make for a healthy society. Diversity of thought and honest discourse is what we’re all desperate for. Yet with cancel culture and dog piling as rampant and commonplace as they are, most of us have been reduced to silence and/or self-censorship. Too many people I know personally will say one thing online but quite the opposite in a private conversation. This is the very definition of Orwell’s doublethink – at the bottom of it is the vain hope that publicly falling into line will keep the mob from their door.
Other people calling bullshit on an approved narrative (whichever one that might be, for there are many and they change daily!) should make us want to investigate what they are saying, not cut them out and tear them down. In a truly free society, everyone should be able to express how they feel. When not very radical opinions can render us unemployed, we’ve entered into very dangerous territory.
Core values are more important than ever before
Integrity should be the top of everyone’s list, so why isn’t it? Are we all so pathetically owned by big tech that we can’t think for ourselves? After watching documentaries and tuning into people like Tristan Harris (who is trying to back pedal on the Frankenstein he helped create), I’ve been taking more and more social media breaks. Sadly, I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s impossible to have true integrity within the Faceagram/Twitter sphere. Is it any wonder with the way they incentivise bad behaviour and clickbait?
Democracy got hacked long ago and if you can’t see this then you aren’t paying attention. Boris Johnson and Donald Trump aren’t the reason the UK and US are in such a mess. They are symptoms of very broken systems. Systems which won’t become amazing overnight simply by putting the main opposition into power. Red and blue have had too many chances and come election season it’s always the same old story. Are we not past time for real change?
Unity is more important now than perhaps ever before in my lifetime. Society feels irreparably fractured but we always have more in common than what divides us. We just have to get out of our own way and stop playing into the divides.
What’s the solution?
Doubling down in our echo chambers might be expedient and comforting in the moment, but it’s a huge part of the problem. We absolutely have to be open minded when it comes to other people’s beliefs and be willing to understand how they came to the conclusions they came to.
2020 has left us all (at least a bit) broken and cynical but the only way out of this shitshow is to stop allowing ourselves to be pitted against each other. Mainstream media, governments and big tech will never have our back. So let’s rebel against them and do what they truly fear.
Properly come together and use the second wave of this pandemic to be an exercise in mass healing and spiritual awakening. Accept that everyone has different beliefs to our own. Stop the blame game and take responsibility when required. Love ourselves the way we love our nearest and dearest. And perhaps most important of all, drop the unrealistic expectations and break the destructive cycle of self-doubt. Can you imagine the force for good that could be achieved if we all did?