Over the past several weeks, my discomfort with upsetting people has required me to look inward and dig more deeply for my own inner guidance and wisdom than I have had to do in a while. I know my uncomfortable emotions are a sign of reactivity letting me know I am identifying with my ego. I have been on the learning curve of not taking other people’s upset with me personally. The upset has not only been coming from reactions to my blog posts, although it has been particularly disconcerting to be on the receiving end of racist feedback, but I have also been managing to piss people off in other areas of my life. It is clearly one of those times when there is something for me to see and it is coming at me from all angles.
I have a knee jerk emotional reaction inside of me when someone is upset with me. I feel bad. I have a lot of beliefs I identify with like: I’ve done something wrong and it is my fault. Because I identify with these beliefs, I feel the uncomfortable effect of them. I feel unworthy, shameful, and not good enough. These feelings are painful, and I have done much in my life to avoid them as much as I could. Of course, never with perfect results and with a big downside.
Going through this round of feeling this way, I got to witness my experience with a deeper knowing of my psychological innocence. I could see that my listening to and acting from the love in my heart and my inner guidance can coexist with people being upset. Their upset is a reflection of their level of consciousness in the moment. Just as my upset about them being upset is a reflection of my level of consciousness in the moment.
I did have glimpses of freedom in this experience. I felt glimmers of wellbeing in the midst of shame. I saw more experientially how my personal reaction is independent from another person. I also saw how I could be kind and gentle with myself while I was suffering. I felt on a deeper level how my peace of mind is not found outside of myself. It is within.
In a sense, my worst fears were being validated. Me just showing up in life as myself was enough for people to be angry with me.
I am not saying that I didn’t receive tons of love and support also during this time. I did, and I am grateful for it. But I wanted to write about my growing edge around learning not to feel annihilated by criticism. It is hard for me to admit how sensitive I am in this area.
However, even with this sensitivity, with regards to my blog posts, I acted against my conditioning. I allowed my actions to be guided by a deeper knowing within me rather than editing myself. I was propelled forward by something inside of me that was not my personal will because my personal self would have definitely preferred me to stay quiet, small, and invisible. But something inside of me was clear that I wanted to speak out.
In doing this, I began to see more how I had made-up ideas of how I should be in the world. I felt the inner oppression I was still holding against myself to get it right and to be good more keenly. I saw my rejection of my humanity and my striving for an idealized perfection that is not possible.
My inner unease during this time indicated I knew on some level, I was going to be confronting my fears. I share this out of encouragement for you to see your fears don’t have to confine you. You can act against your conditioning and allow yourself to authentically express your beautiful self into this world. Yes, there will be haters. But the biggest hater is the one in your own mind that tells you to hold back and not proudly show up as you. Whether that be in public or in private. One of the best ways to take on the inner hater is to act against its programming and to boldly claim freedom from it even in the face of discomfort and fear.
I am going to once again risk criticism by addressing worldly concerns and expressing the desire in my heart for greater social justice. I embrace a spirituality, like the Liberation Theologians in Latin America, that sees no conflict between spiritual matters and aid to the poor and oppressed through involvement in civic and political affairs.
I believe that love can speak out against injustice. By looking in the direction of my spiritual nature I feel compelled to bring that love forward into the world. I can’t do that in a sterile and detached way. Logic is not the language of my heart.
I see no conflict between outside action and the truth that we are all intrinsically connected because we are unique expressions of the one source. I have no problem with addressing issues in the world of form while knowing that for each person their experience of the world is created internally. I am fine with the idea that the world of form is a temporary illusion and the true self is all that is real. However, my day-to-day experience is that of living in the world of form so I will act accordingly knowing I can use my mind in both ways — to experience the personal and the impersonal.
It seems to me that how I navigate the illusion is a reflection of my state of consciousness. Rather than ignoring it, I want to embrace it and allow myself to be used to bring more love and understanding into the illusion.
I do not want to ignore this world of form and only look in the direction of my spiritual nature. I want to allow my heart to break open, and act independently of the fearful conditioning that has me believe I am a separate self. I want to allow love and compassion to pour through me and learn to express it more fully in this illusion. I want to be open to expressing compassion and not care about my fear of upsetting people because I don’t want to feel uncomfortable. I want to lose my regard for my emotional comfort in favor of showing up more fully with all of my imperfections.
I want love and compassion to be the organizing principles of my life, not fear.
I share this to encourage you to liberate yourself from whatever your conditioning is. Wake up to it and express who you are more fully. Change starts with each person becoming more aware of the misunderstandings and limiting beliefs that restrict and bind. Greater freedom from these allows more love, compassion, kindness, and empathy to naturally emerge. Social injustice becomes more painful. The suffering of others is the suffering of self. There is no separation. A violation of any human is a violation of all humans. Everyone is sacred.
There is a difference between responding to injustice with love and reacting to injustice, but who among us hasn’t done both. Reactivity is part of the learning curve on the way to responding from wisdom and clarity.
And who I am to judge what is another person’s wisdom in the moment.
All I can do is start with myself. It is my intention to bring more love and understanding into the world in the messy, awkward, emotional way that I do. This might be embraced or met with impatience, criticism, and anger. That is not on me.
Creating a more conscious world is going to be met with resistance. Not everyone is at the same level of consciousness. And compassion for everyone is needed while also speaking out for change.
In the past, slavery was seen as acceptable and normal. The holocaust was allowed to occur along with the Rwandan Genocide, the Chinese Great Leap Forward, and the genocide of indigenous populations through European colonization around the world, just to mention a few horrific events. It is through our level of consciousness-raising that these atrocities no longer make sense.
Awareness that they are atrocities is the first step. We can see it now, but most didn’t see it then. Being able to acknowledge, talk about, and share your understanding with is essential for change. It helps people wake up to their bias and conditioning.
There is no need to demonize another even if they commit atrocities, but there is also no need to be silent and complicit.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke.
It may no longer be acceptable to steal a human being from his or her country and sell him or her into slavery, but it is okay for racist policies to exist. Racist policies that :
Support white families with holding 90% of the national wealth, Latino families hold 2.3%, and black families hold 2.6%.
Allow the black unemployment rate to be consistently twice that of whites over the past 60 years independent of the overall health of the economy.
Have 27% of black students referred to law enforcement when they represent only 16% of student enrollment. And once black children are in the criminal justice system, they are 18 times more likely than white children to be sentenced as adults.
Have blacks make up 13% of the population, they represent about 40% of the prison population.
Allowed for banks during the Great Recession to routinely and purposely guided black home buyers toward subprime loans.
Result in more than half of all young black Americans know someone, including themselves, who has been harassed by the police. Statistics also show that black drivers are about 30% more likely than whites to be pulled over by the police
According to a 2012 study found that a majority of doctors have “unconscious racial biases” when it comes to their black patients.
These statistics are taken from this Ben and Jerry blog post, Systemic Racism is Real.
There is no need for polarization between the political and the spiritual. Looking in the direction of our true nature can naturally have us engage with life from love and address issues of social justice with understanding. Creating a more just society is the natural by-product of transformation in consciousness. Racist policies are not consistent with the spiritual qualities of love, kindness, compassion, empathy, and wisdom. This world of form gives us an opportunity to experience our true nature and to express it more fully in this temporary experience called life.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.