I’ve been home sick today (honestly, I woke up with the cold I was feeling coming on last night, though I tried hard to nip it in the bud), and sick at heart. I’ve been reading posts all day while in bed. I am grateful, truthfully, for this cold, and for the time it has allowed me to process in peace, with my therapy animals around me. This article (https://www.integrallife.com/integral-post/morning-after) I think sums up best my thoughts, feelings, hopes for the future. While I cannot in good conscience support this president-elect based on too many things to post here, I do recognize that his candidacy is expressing something that needs expressing, the fear and disenfranchisement of a certain segment of our society.
My favored counseling model, Internal Family Systems (IFS) describes “parts” of ourselves that may get in extremely polarized fights with each other. It is because there is an underlying pain that has not been addressed. In this model, this is called the Exile. The bigger the pain, the more polarization and more extreme reactions will follow. When the concerns of this exiled part are addressed and healed, the polarization reduces, the extremism reduces. We as a nation, clearly, need to acknowledge and heal our Exiles so as to allow for the calming down of our system. This polarized and extreme election cycle, and this result, show how our work is cut out for us. But it does not involve continuing or upping the fight between polarized parts. It involves going deeper, doing our collective and individual inner work, healing our in-pain parts, valuing the input and feelings of all our parts. A primary tenet of IFS is “All parts are welcome.” Continuing the fight only continues to add to the pain, and the cycle of pain, polarization, and extremism continues and worsens.
This article I’ve linked discusses society based on a theory of stages of societal or consciousness development, much like stages of human development. In it, they state that we are living at a time when six different levels of development are being displayed on the face of the Earth. There are conflicts between these levels because needs and understanding are different at each level. How can we compassionately interact with people of differing levels? Let us strive. How can we compassionately interact with parts of ourselves or others that we find distressing? It is necessary, and healing.
In my experience as a therapist, when people interact with their extreme parts in a careful, non-judgmental, and honestly curious manner, and parts are allowed to express themselves safely, just that act alone will reduce their extremeness, will reduce the polarization. Once polarization is reduced and ameliorated, it becomes easier for all the parts to come and work together, in a more harmonious fashion. Let us strive for healing, de-polarization, de-extremism.
And let me say again, the way forward is not through upping the fight but through settling down and listening, by asking the extreme parts of ourselves to step back just a bit so we can hear what the other parts are saying. At the root of every extreme reaction is a fear. “What are you most afraid of?”
After South Africa ended apartheid, the country created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. You can read up on it yourself. Something like that may be necessary in this U.S. of A. We are fractured. We are extreme. We are polarized. Let us not go further down that hole.
So I ask you, What are you most afraid of? What do you need? What will help you feel better? What will help you feel safe? I invite you to ask similar questions to your inner parts, as well as to your friends, relatives, acquaintances. And, if you can do it carefully, calmly, compassionately, I invite you to ask your adversary in this political structure. The answers may surprise you. They may enlighten you. And enlightenment can only help.