By Cat Gina Cole
Every day social media asks the ultimate loaded question: “What is on your mind?”
Well, in the age of instantly knowing everything at once how can we not have too much on our minds? This highlights one of many dualities: how can we care about everything going on in the world and balance that with time for ourselves? I do not mean doing fun things with friends and family here. I mean us, personally. In this fast-paced world, taking time to feel, to grieve, to be happy, to cry, to enjoy a moment alone, time to let ourselves really feel everything we need to in order to properly think and process is not encouraged…that is until Covid.
During the lockdowns, our feelings we had stuffed from being so busy began to rise with anger at the forefront. We are angry at the way the world is, angry at the way our jobs are or are not, housing, health, murder, civil rights and so much more. We are angry at the politicians for not doing enough fast enough. The onslaught of media has us angry at all these things.
The thing is, they can’t do enough, fast enough, no more than we can as individuals… and that is what angers us the most. There is the assumption they should do more when we feel powerless and overwhelmed. Yet they are people with emotions and health needs and families that get overwhelmed too. In our anger and powerlessness, we forget that, so we blame and judge.
Does that let them off the hook? No. But if we could acknowledge our own sense of powerlessness and anger and turn instead to doing something for ourselves that we do have control over, it would ease our anger and powerlessness and give us time to think and to simply be for a moment. Doing things like gardening, laundry, meditating, a hobby, changing the house around, or most anything gives us solace and a sense of control.
As we participate in the fervor of the blame game the media plays, we forget we are responsible for giving ourselves solace and control, not anyone outside of us, not politicians nor loved ones. Just ourselves. However, because we are human it is much easier to lash out at others or let ourselves be baited by others. This happens simply because we are human, but does that let us off the hook? No. No more than it does the politician. We are accountable for ourselves, our anger, our judgmental thoughts, giving to ourselves, all of it. Is this easy? No! Are we bad people because we fall into these traps? Only if we do not pull ourselves out of them and take joy in it and let it become the way we are.
I think under all the anger and feeling of powerlessness, the individuals’ hearts and souls are quite different. I think more people than not say to themselves, “It should not be this way” or “That is not how I really feel,” or have remorse for something they said and did in a heated moment. When humans feel this way, that is the time for accountability. We can go back and apologize or own our stuff in some way. That is the redemption that keeps us liking ourselves. If we do not do this, we end up not just hating life, but everything in it, including ourselves. This leads to feeling even more powerless. I know we are not encouraged to admit we were wrong or did a bad thing. It is perceived as weak and we are taught it only opens us to attack, shame, or rejection.
Society has us fearing a societal consequence while ignoring the personal consequence, which is much more destructive to our lives.
It took me a while to figure this all out and I am by no means perfect at it, but each day in moderation I do what I can to tell myself that giving solace and control to myself, within my own world, is more important than anything or anyone. We have all seen what can happen when the individual goes too far with self-importance. I am talking about doing this in a healthy way, in moderation, and with accountability, responsibility and humility.
Humility is another taboo in our society but is very much a contradiction and duality within the human being. I once said confidence is symbiotic with arrogance and is difficult to temper with humility, but we as humans must temper it or we have all the things that have been discussed previously. We end up with what we see on social media: screw other people; they do nothing for me. We see disregard and dissolution with anyone perceived as an authority and lots of people yelling, “I matter more.” Well, yes, to yourself. It is not the job of others to make you feel as though you matter because they will always fall short of your expectations. When you leave that job to others, you will always feel discounted until you count to yourself. As I write that, I am well aware that many will take issue with my words and misunderstand them, all for the reasons stated above. When I say it is not the job of others to make sure you matter, I am not talking about civil rights; I speak only of the inner self.
Because of social conditioning and social media, the human has many inner conflicts and dualities. I have even had to address my own misogyny and behaviors that were conditioned into me as I grew up because I realized it was in direct conflict of my beliefs about gender, relationships, and love, and I have many more I need to deal with. It is my self-acceptance and humility that allow me to say so openly, without fear of what others will say, because the kind of person I am matters the most to me.
So, what keeps us in duality and contradictions that no longer serve us? Fear. Mostly, it is what others think but the most important one is the fear of change and the unknown, but whether we change or not, we still have consequences. The way I see it, I would rather have consequences that are mine to manage that come from me rather than worrying about others.
There is duality in all things in nature: a light side a dark side, an up side and a down side, a green side and a dark green side. In nature we embrace and accept that, but in society, it is a taboo to do admit that about ourselves. If we admit our duality and contradictions, we are seen as broken or in need of mental health care. I feel it is just who I am and it is my job to manage that the best I can. It is not the job of my friends to monitor those contradictions and dualities or even to give me advice about it.
It is the job of others to see you as clearly as you see yourself and love you anyway; to trust that you are handling it because they will really know you when you are that transparent. Yet in human contradiction and duality, it is the human passion to point out someone else’s faults to them as though they are five years old.
It is true sometimes people do not see their duality and contradictions. If true then, this is the time it is appropriate to offer insight, but you will not know if they are aware until you take a risk and ask first before assuming and telling them what you think they should do.
Another contradiction and duality is how far people will go to avoid what they perceive as conflict or to take the risk of being honest or to speak up. Again, fear puts us in this place. I do not fear this because I am the one dealing with me and any fallout is my responsibility. It is the most liberating place I have ever been even when it makes those I love uncomfortable. People have tried for many years to keep me their idea of safe and protected to no avail. It is comfortable for them to see others do as they would do. It validates their position and allows them to avoid facing things that are different than what they would do or what they see as reasonable. I owe it to my family for raising me that way. It was the greatest contradiction of all. They raised me to be an honest free thinker and doer, that is until I was that way toward them because it made them face their own choices, words, and actions. This is the meaning behind the statement, “Others are a mirror of your own issues.”
In summary, we all have duality and contradictions because we are human and we are built that way, so we may as well accept that for ourselves and for others and quit fussing so much about how others do things on a personal level.