Hello Miranda and Jana,
At Christmas I elected to sit at the dinner table with one of my least favourite family members, a man who has in the past caused a lot of conflict and hurt. I decided to tune in to what was happening with me. I noticed how I was sweating, but smiling, how I wanted to jump in and “save” him when he didn’t reach out conversationally to me, and how I felt confused at his niceness, when I have so often seen him being cruel. I noticed I left feeling relieved. What I take away from this is: I realised I do not enjoy being around him, that it reminds me of other situations when I was little and not having a good time, but couldn’t leave. These days I can leave. And I don’t have to make him feel comfortable, or cover up for his deficiencies. So if I choose to be there again next year, I am choosing to sweat!
PI (Private Investigator!)
Well done! Yes, noticing starts with the body and a desire to ‘make things right’ or repeat a pattern that changes the physical discomfort. What we liked about your description is you also used another tool called holding when you chose not to respond immediately by jumping in and ‘saving’ the situation and how your memory was able to reveal to you that this pattern of ‘smoothing over’ or what can also be termed as ‘accommodating’ and ‘compliance’ to others that started many years ago. These protective reactions began because you were little, were powerless and had no tools to function in an alternative manner.
Just want to comment about recognising things that happened when one is little. At the time these situations are overwhelming and they can be very confusing and sometimes darn right frightening. As adults we need to remember that the ‘little one’ at the time did the best that they could with the insight and tools that they used to protect them from being engulfed at that moment.
In hindsight we need to understand that this reaction and ensuing behaviour patterns and/or protective indicators actually worked for us every time we started feeling uncomfortable but as we got older and were able to take charge of our lives, these behaviour patterns and/or protective indicators actually began to do us a disservice because they over-protected us.
When we begin to accept that this overprotection actually impedes our personal growth because it now results in disempowerment then we can start gently addressing what can be changed. As you say – these days you can do things differently you now have more ‘tools’ and because you do have the power of choice, you can use them.
I am missing something and I need your help – Ground Control to Major Tom.
What I am missing is that there are people whom I meet, talk to and connect with that seem to be very happy with their lives. They don’t seem to want to change anything. It is almost as if they go about their lives wrapped in a cocoon of self-righteous complacency.
How so? The daily news media tells me there is going to be an electricity hike of 53% within the next 3 years, petrol is up, industries are struggling, people are dissatisfied with lack of housing and service delivery in general, unemployment is rife, prices are soaring, learners are using their playgrounds as battlefields, the consumption of drugs, especially tik is on the rise, breaking and entering is the new micro-business and it is flourishing, courts are full, prisons are full and overflowing, corruption charges are being meted out slowly and then subsequently dropped in a flash – or so it seems.
So how do we change their attitude and make things happen?
Dear Ground Control,
Yes, there are people that are happy with their lives – thank goodness for that and yes, the majority of us in S.A. also are on the receiving end of a battleground of hardships/challenges and therefore we are not always that happy.
Now to address your question – How do we change people’s self-righteous and complacent attitudes so they will actively participate in contributing to social change? The short answer is we can’t.
Many years ago I remember asking a similar question to Swami Venkatesananda about the ‘Ills of Apartheid’ and he replied that our place on earth is not to change anything or anyone. The only thing we can change is ourselves. It is when we are truly committed to changing ourselves to being who we truly are – loving caring human beings that change happens.
It has taken me a long time to unpack and apply this statement; nevertheless I am passing it on to you. If you can truly love and care for yourself you will discover that those around you benefit.
It is this benefit that begins a ripple effect where change has a chance to spread. All I can say is try it out – get to know what is of value and importance for your personal growth, learn to honour it, nurture it, love and care for it and let it shine.
Some basic examples of this could be – if you are worried that the price of electricity is too high then first do something about it in your own space before you join a protest group. If you are worried about the fact that there is too much violence in S.A. then first work on being non-violent with your own thoughts words and deeds.
Love, Peace, Over and Out.