Politics, Opinions, and Fear

I don’t like discussing politics, and often I shy away from conversations that are centered around current events.  Not because I don’t have an opinion or strong feeling about the state of the world, but more so because I have a deep disdain for conflict and inflexibility. As I've scrolled through my social media feeds lately, I've been a bit put off by some of the stuff I've come across. 

Does voicing my opinion via social media help? Does it sway others to see it my wayDoes it affect their way of thinking? Typically, no. Every person has their own perception of the world that is a compilation of everything they’ve ever known. Even those who have experienced the same events will have different thoughts and feelings of what actually happened as well as potentially eliciting a different response or level of resiliency. Their personal experiences, interactions, and feelings are all stored in a beautiful little brain box which dictates how we perceive what is happening around us. Which is why, although I can possess empathy and sympathy, I can truly only see the situation from the limited point of reference that is my perception. 

I feel sort of strongly about what I’m writing here. I will mind you that it is solely my perception, how I view the world, based on what I’ve seen, felt, and experienced. We naturally gravitate toward stories or articles that align with who we are and what we’ve been through. At times it can be hard to read something outside of our perceptual normality. Why? Because we, as humans, love to be right. We love it. We thrive off of it. We find data and statistics that support exactly how right we are. We talk to the people who are going to agree with us. We congregate in groups because it really feels bad ass and awesome to be right. When we are wrong, or when something is presented that is outside of our perception (what we know and believe to be true), we get this little thing happening called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when your beliefs are clashing with what is presented, creating a bit of anxiety and a whole lot of feeling uncomfortable. Our brains go into panic mode and we are forced to consider this new, clashing information as an outlier or a rarity. Declaring an outlier is like someone running their fingers through your hair before bed. It makes our brain feel all better, and we can cozy up and go back to feeling warm and fuzzy, in alignment with our beliefs. 

No matter how right you think you are in the moment, you aren’t. Or maybe you are. Being right is totally subjective. You are only right to you. You are only right to your alignment. The difficult part is that our alignment can be so far off from others. By nature, most of us are people pleasers. We like people to like us. We like to keep our friends, by agreeing to what they agree to, or we like to make our parents happy by following their rules and expectations. Sometimes to discover what is truly right for you, you have to dig deep. Real deep. Tucked away under societal rules and parental influence. Deep below the surface of peer persuasion and life experience. Somewhere so far down that you might have totally forgot it existed. The REAL you! Yes. It’s still there. It’s a thing. You’ll really love it when you find it because its filled with so much truth and awesome.

You want to make real change? You want people to wake up? You want them to see your point? Honor and allow others to have their own thoughts. Challenge gently, but respect wholly. You have no clue what they have been through. We are all a little scared right now. As a race. As a nation. And fear can make us do crazy shit. Fear makes us hate. Fear makes us conjure up all of the what ifs in the scenario. The bad what ifs. Fear makes us feel vulnerable inspiring the internal urge to protect ourselves, bringing natural defensiveness that generates anger and violence. Fear forges inflexibility, which denies your ability to change your mind, no matter what alternate information is presented to you.

We are just so afraid. Afraid to be wrong. Afraid to be powerless. Afraid to not be enough. Afraid to have hope. The crazy thing about fear is that it’s not real. However our bodies will respond as though it is real. We can work ourselves into a total panic attack, triggering our nervous system to fight or flight, based on thoughts alone.

Our brains are powerful and incredible. We can create joy or we can create destruction. Everything starts with a thought. When you feel the fear creep up. When you feel your temper flare. When someone doesn't see things from your perspective. Stop. Step back. You may feel strongly about your beliefs. About your thoughts. But, guess what? They do too. Life is about respecting others. Life is about hearing what others are saying, acknowledging it, feeling it, accepting it, and then sharing your own. When we all start to stop, step back, and dig deep within straight to our authentic selves, only love and respect will shine through. When we don't act on fear, then we act on love. On safe passion. Your thoughts are your world. Your thoughts are your perception. Your thoughts affect your actions. Your actions affect the world. Use your thoughts wisely.

Note: A big thank you to Michelle Wood Gagne for editing and adding to this blog. Thank you for always inspiring me and for excusing my absolute disdain for appropriate punctuation.<3 #idowhatiwant