I’m not sure if I’m going to actually work all the way through this thought (enough to post it on the blog), but that last one got my brain going in an interesting direction, and I’m thinking I might follow, just to see where it leads.
Positing trauma etc as a (or maybe even ‘the’!) root cause of even stuff as seemingly unrelated as low energy levels/selfish behavior/laziness etc…
What, then, are ways that people currently seem to overcome the effects of such?
My brain keeps heading towards abusive behavior in really tantalizing ways- and I’m having trouble articulating it all, even in my own head.
I keep thinking about Anger.
Perhaps anger can be seen as one of the methods our brains rely on- to summon the energy required to keep functioning, despite the draining effects of trauma.
Anger is a super tricky concept.
I haven’t fleshed out even my internal definitions of anger, yet.
But perhaps it is time to try.
For me- anger is what happens when I feel like something is not the way it ‘ought’ to be.
In this sense, anger could potentially be viewed almost as a form of insanity, in a way.
Things are the way they are.
People- are the way they are.
Wanting to make things better in the future- is something slightly different than wanting things to not be the way they are, right now, and this is a vital distinction, in my mind.
We rail at that which we feel like we cannot change.
When, instead- we could be applying that mental energy towards trying to come up ways we might be able to work towards changing what we can, right now
In order to begin taking steps towards changing the bigger picture, down the line. Long-term.
I feel like there’s a distortion in the mentality with which we, as a species- tend to perceive things like Trauma.
The people that I have known that I consider to be farther towards the extreme ends of the ‘abusive behavior’ spectrum- also largely seem to me to be unaware of their own trauma. The roots of it, anyway- as opposed to the mere symptoms of how this trauma manifests in their own lives, behaviors, habits, and cycles.
I am not in the heads of those people, though.
I am only in my own head.
So, from my own perspective:
I hurt people the most, when I was hurting.
I hurt people the most, when I am hurting.
There is no ‘magic switch’ to turn off pain, however.
Just knowing that was what I was doing- was not enough, in itself, to reduce the frequency with which I hurt people.
In fact- awareness of the reasons underlying my own actions tended to intensify my abusive behavior. For, without guidance as to how to practice the kinds of behaviors that actually healed my own hurt- when I failed to be a nicer person, I internalized that guilt.
Turned it inward.
Where it hurt me more, and somehow…. Got reflected back out again, in the form of further acts of cruelty.
Our world, our brains, our lives- seem to be influenced, largely, by feedback effects.
One event that internalizes some level of guilt, of trauma of whatever sort- results in echoes of that pain rippling outward to those around us, and on, and on.
Have you ever had someone say something mean to you, something out of anger- and somehow catch you at just the right moment for you to calmly, gently, explain to them how their words had hurt you?
And had it work?
Watched, as the anger fled. Watched, as their face- softened?
I have found time, and time again- that when I am experiencing Anger, the very moment I realize what I had been doing to help create the very circumstances that I’d been angry about – my anger just melts away.
I have begun using the feeling of anger as a flag, as an indication that I’m missing the forest for one tree.
Anger, in my mind- is all about what someone else is doing wrong.
Yet- when I am being honest with myself, either I am wrong in my own beliefs as to the necessity of a thing, or the value of a thing- or I have not done a good enough job teaching the person I am feeling anger towards why they should not be acting in the way they are.
One of the two, maybe even always.
So frequently – we act out of anger in order to teach.
I think anger is counter to the goal of effective teaching, but that’s another blog post.
I want to get back to the energy thing.
So: if trauma acts to drain energy- we can react to this in a number of ways.
Withdraw. Hide, from the pain and from the world.
This, for me, is reflected in apathy/super low energy levels.
Another potential option is to become angry, use the biological symptoms of anger to, sort of- power through our trauma. Blood pressure rises, giving us heightened energy.
This is a hack, I believe. The kind of corner-cutting that results in greater long term costs.
I believe anger may even be what happens, naturally- when we are not fully aware of our feelings, though I do not like that phrasing.
I will return to particular aspects of this post in greater detail, at a later date.
The main thing I wanted to get to, in this post-
is the third option.
When I pay attention, when I make an effort to observe changes in the pattern of my thinking, and in my body- moment to moment- I become much more capable of recognizing when things make me feel sad, or hurt, as it happens.
Before that hurt gets turned outward, and effectively becomes something to be wielded.
So, the solution, in my mind, ever lies in greater awareness of self.
It is only through a greater awareness of Self that we can even hope to gain a greater awareness of Other.