It’s all over the news. If you haven’t been keeping up, let me summarize for you. Children are shooting up other children at schools. People are setting off bombs in public places. Unhappy adults are killing unsuspecting concert-goers from high rise hotels. Everybody hates Trump, and our government’s leadership seems to be playing a mean joke on all of us.
Children are getting abused. Bullies are everywhere. Depression is on the rise, and too many people are mean.
If you really haven’t been keeping up, I don’t blame you. There doesn’t seem to be much good in the news these days. Not much good at all.
Messed up is the new normal
As I walk into my office each morning, I prepare myself for the onslaught of all the bad and painful news that is bound to fill my day. Each hour holds a new set of problems. I go through more Kleenex than any one human should go through.
If you can’t cry with a therapist, after all, where can you cry?
Tears are a part of my world, and there is good cause for each tear that is shed. Life really is hard. It just is. Suffering is everywhere, and people look at our world and feel hopeless. People have gone mad, and nobody knows what to do.
Maybe the church is the solution. Maybe the church is the problem? Shall we take away the guns? How can we legislate better? Why don’t the police do their job? Maybe teachers should carry guns? Let’s start a bullying support group. Let’s have a walk out. No, let’s create a child abuse prevention training program.
If you look around for more than a minute, you will find a million different theories on how to stop this madness. Everybody is blaming somebody else. It’s the conservatives. No, it’s the liberals. No, it’s Trump. No, it’s guns. “What is wrong with people?” has become a new national mantra. Messed up really is the new normal, or so it seems.
Stop the madness. Just … stop.
Then take a deep breath. Or three.
Then stop again, but this time, stop looking out there. The answer is not in what everybody else is doing. The answer is inside. It is inside of each of us because cultural change starts when each member of that culture begins to fix that which they can control. That requires looking inside our souls, and not outside at the world.
The answer to our problems is not in a nationwide campaign, it is in our hearts.
Change starts in the heart. Always.
If I’ve learned anything from my years as a therapist, it is this: The biggest part of healing comes when we stop looking for other people to solve our story. Our story belongs to us.
The victim of the greatest abuse must take responsibility for their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, even if those feelings came as a result of their abuse. The abuse they suffered was not their fault, yet the impact of it is entirely theirs to carry. Their victim-hood, however horrible it was, cannot be fixed by others. Even the perpetrator does not have the power to heal the pain. Once the heart has been wounded, it immediately becomes the responsibility of the wounded to deal with their story, no matter how hard, no matter how unfair.
It is a personal journey that each man and woman must take in the deepest part of their own soul.
For the victim of social injustice, it is the same. Perhaps that social injustice was unfair, or deeply personal and attacking of one’s value as a human being. Maybe that injustice was based on some aspect of their person that is not within their control. Or maybe the injustice came at the hands of insensitive and unfeeling souls that do not know how to show, or even feel compassion.
No matter the circumstances, when pain is experienced in the core of our soul, we cannot look outside for answers. Another human being is not responsible for our story. Ever.
No matter the story, when unfair happens (and it will), the solution and the healing is found in our own heart, mind, and soul. It is a journey that begins inside and must end inside as well. It is a journey that cannot be walked by anyone but us. It is a journey that will make us a perpetual victim, or a strong warrior and victor (but maybe with a few scars).
It is the journey of responsibility, of self-awareness, grief, and pain, of faith, and of forgiveness. While that journey can (and should) be walked with others, it is not the love or behavior of another that will heal the impact of trauma. Another person can help, but if our healing is dependent on their love and support, then healing becomes much more difficult.
Healing should never be dependent on the behavior of another. Never. It should never be dependent on a government or leader of any kind either.
When our healing depends on another, then we are giving our personal power away and have become the ultimate victim. If we give our power away, our healing will always be dependent on another’s kindness, their sensitivity, their generosity, or their love. That is the most powerless place to be because it tells us that we have no voice, no choice, and therefore no healing without the love, kindness, and understanding of another.
How utterly hopeless.