Things I've learned
You might be wondering why I would want to comment on Trump and Brexit in a blog that's geared towards self-study and self-love? Because I see them as being very much related. Deeply related.
I made the mistake yesterday of watching a Vice news video on Youtube about the recent riots in Charlottesville. Seeing the nazi flags being marched, and the destruction that followed, sparked the same feeling in my stomach as the morning the Brexit news was announced. That feeling was the physical manifestation of despair and fear, all jumbled up in my tummy. My personal reaction is very real and valid, but I'll be doing my absolute best to not to feed it any further, and I'll tell you why.
Emotion: Too Much Mystery and Power
The way I see it, everything that happens in the world is like a web of activity that spawns out of individual human motivations. What creates those motivations? I strongly believe that it's not actually the political causes, racism, religious or other affiliations which are dominating at the surface level, as convincing or relevant as they might seem. It's never been clearer, to my mind at least, that our involvement with those causes is primarily motivated by our ingrained emotional patterns and self-beliefs. We could call it emotional karma.
Let's do a little thought experiment for a minute, to consider the real power of the emotional level: think about some of the dramatic or important events in your life. What is it that makes those experiences so memorable and important to you? It's because they are coloured by the strong emotional reactions that you felt at those times: joy, sadness, anger, fear, or whatever it was. Similarly, at the more day-to-day level, emotions colour how we view the world around us. For example, if we feel fearful under the surface a lot of the time, then we may have a strong conviction that the world is against us, and our desires and actions will come from that place.
There's nothing as powerful as emotion to motivate human behaviour.
And yet we really don't know very much about it! We don't have much awareness about how this layer works, and we don't get any training at all in how to process and clear it out. The cost of not addressing this is way too high, and can be seen in the range of destructive acts of people all around us, especially now, at this extra-emotionally explosive time.
Let's try to dissect this a bit further by taking the man of the moment as an example. Trump is really the perfect reflection of this huge issue of build-up of unresolved negative emotions. There are plenty of social complexities of course about why Trumpism has the popularity that it does, but as a person, he doesn't appear to be a very complex man at all. His behaviour is like a small child who is absolutely desperate for approval. This might be hidden by a sort of ignorant self-assuredness, but really he looks to me to be caught in some particularly vicious cycles of self-sabotage. It may sound strange to think of a man with so much external/material success and who also happens to somehow be the President of America, as a self-sabotager, but I do. The quantity and quality of his stream of defensive protests about his mission, display a person who is deeply uncomfortable with himself, and has the strongest need for approval that I think I've ever seen. Looking for approval from whatever sides are available to him, and by whatever means he can, is a self-destructive business. I'm pretty sure that he has absolutely no internal peace from it. I have no idea which childhood fears he has harboured that compel him to rally support now in such perverse ways, but I do know that I've never seen such a public example of someone who did not learn to self-accept or self-soothe.
The Trump alarm clock is ringing, and it's time to wake up.
In a way, he's so easy to criticise and to psychoanalyse, that we could easily miss the main alarm bell that's going off, which is that Trump is a stark reflection of the difficult internal states of us all. This is why he has attracted such a big following of people who are just as defensive and angry about their suffering. And it's the same with more overt terrorist organisations.
For me, he's like a giant, roaring, un-ignorable warning bell that individual and collective issues are inseparable. Like a human alarm clock, beeping (and tweeting) away now, as if we couldn't have asked for louder confirmation that it's time for change. Morning!!
A solution: the Map and the Treasure
Nobody has escaped emotional adversity in life. And almost nobody has been trained in how to process their early emotional difficulties, to prevent them from becoming negative patterns throughout the rest of their lives. We're very much responsible for our actions, and yet at the same time we're pre-programmed because of our previous experiences, which limit our capacity to behave in ways that are good and useful for us. Understanding this is massive.
Everyone's life to date has a fascinating map hidden inside it. This treasure map is internal and backward-facing, and there's no politician, oppressor or abuser that can take it away. It just takes a bit of work to start clearing the way and to move towards the treasure.
As a result of my own self-study with Yoga and EFT, I've learned about how the map is formed:
When we are babies and children, the difficult emotional experiences that we go through force us to download programmes of behaviour that remain nice and strong within us, fed by similar reactions as we grow older, and continue to play out as patterns in our lives as adults. It's really important to note here that trauma is a relative thing. From extreme child abuse to getting lost in the supermarket, children experience emotional trauma in intense ways, and it is all very relative to their situations and personalities. We only have to observe children for a little while to see the strength of these frights and seeming over-reactions. They don't know any better, and unfortunately, are not taught how to look after their own emotional states as they grow up.
So there's no other route for them but to assume that their negative experiences, and resulting negative self-beliefs and fears are reality. This is how they see the world, and is how they will continue to respond to it.
These days, there's definitely more of an interest in child psychology and emotions, but in my view it's essential that parents do some work to clear their own baggage, otherwise the child will continue to absorb it.
The Case for EFT
EFT provides a mechanism for us to uncover our old childhood programmes and release them, by working on issues that are bothering us right now. It's the personal stresses and difficulties that we are facing today that point us back, step by step, along the map, if we're willing to start doing some cleaning. I have found it absolutely incredible to find unexpected and at the same time totally understandable links through my own history, with EFT. Yes, it takes a bit of courage to start working on that kind of stuff, but really it's not even a tiny fraction of the amount of effort it takes to continue to live with the negative patterns that bind us as adults. Lots of layers of emotional liberation are possible, and the feeling of freedom afterwards is amazing and lasting.
There are of course other ways of processing emotional baggage, but I've found EFT to be very efficient, which is why I recommend it. And I've found that it works particularly well with Yoga. The reason for this is because Yoga is a long-term path to expanded awareness, and EFT is a useful tool for clearing emotional obstacles along the way. Awareness helps progress with EFT, and vice-versa.
Understanding but not Justifying
So. There are very reasonable reasons why people act the way that they do. I'm not at all justifying Trumpism, or any other bigotry, but I do understand what's behind it. The internal pain and fears that everyone goes around with provide more than enough fuel to generate the negative qualities, actions and addictions that we see all around us. And my view is that we all have a duty to at least do a bit of internal cleaning where we can, and contribute in a practical, individual way to clearing away the fear which is spreading so quickly now in our society. At the risk of sounding like a giant hippy, what we need are internal revolutions within individuals to overcome this incredible circus of destruction around us, and to meet the urgent need for self-love and self-care.