Of Anger, Grief, and Healing

I think I’m a pretty good listener most of the time. Like everyone, I have my moments where I’m more concerned about my position than really hearing someone else. Because of my own background, sometimes I am angered or enraged at events around me, usually because I am not heard.

As a coach, I’m trained to listen. I’ve learned from the process to really try to understand my client, to hear them and reflect what I hear back to them, for clarification, and to learn where they are in the stages of change. I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I am also trained and now have 15 years experience as an EFT coach/practitioner.

How are you at listening? What I am seeing on social media in these past couple of weeks isn’t listening. I see some people who are really hearing and really searching for answers, but more often than not, I see the defense of individual’s positions. Justifications. Are you listening?

Racism has given us an open opportunity to explore humanity, but it’s really much bigger than that. What do we do in this battle between good and evil? Between mother/daughter, father/son, neighbor/neighbor, religion/religion, R’s/D’s, communities, states, nations. I don’t pretend to have answers, but I do have some thoughts.

Love your neighbor. Sometimes having a view of the globe and everything going on everywhere is a good thing. It gives us perspective, educates, and invites us to ponder our individual circumstances. In some people, it inspires grand visions, dreams, and action. Other times, it’s not a benefit. If having an international view through news, internet, and social media is causing you anxiety or fear, it’s not a good thing.

Abraham Maslow proposed that humans have basic needs, that if not met, would determine or at least influence our behavior. After those basic needs are met, we are able to move to psychological and self-fulfillment needs. At the very base of the needs triangle is physiological and safety needs. What happens when a person is subjected to living in circumstances that barely meet survival and safety needs long term? They aren’t really capable of functioning in love, self-esteem, or self-actualization.

So, does it do any good if you are functioning from a self-esteem level of awareness to try to convince someone who is functioning in survival and safety to try to sway them to your way of thinking? The answer is no. It doesn’t matter if it’s a black teen living in fear in an inner city, or a white girl kidnapped and trafficked, or a Native American woman whose husband is abusive, or a third world man in any country with few job opportunities. If the most basic needs aren’t met, there isn’t much value in the conversation if you aren’t meeting them where they are.

In my years of assisting people with emotional issues, it’s been interesting that whenever I have worked with someone very angry and we resolve that anger, the VERY NEXT THING that happens is, they begin to cry. Because underneath anger always seems to be sadness, sometimes wrapped up with fear. When we have unmet basic needs from our past, they can often interfere in the present. When they are buried and unresolved, anger is the most likely response in circumstances that remind the subconscious of the experience.

When you consider that a single race was taken against their will from their homeland, and from that moment treated savagely, until they reached a new land, and then were enslaved for multiple generations… Not only that, the men were purposely broken, tortured, and removed from their families, all done in front of their wives to send a message. Submission.

The mothers, then began having conversations with their sons. Don’t get angry, don’t fight back, don’t look them in the eye, don’t cause trouble… SUBMIT. Because they knew what would happen to them. And those conversations continued for HUNDREDS of years. What does that do to GENERATIONS of a people? That is where this comes from. FEAR.

If YOUR ancestors had been kidnapped, raped, beaten, murdered, and oppressed for generations, how confident would you be in your response when “one more murder” happened? There is a collective sorrow not one of us who is white can begin to understand. And when that sorrow becomes so great that it breaks, ANGER COMES RAGING OUT. It may be criminal, but for those who aren’t paid, it’s justifiable.

Some may see the above message as divisive simply because of who is speaking the words. But, I would encourage you to look deep within yourself and answer the question, “what can I do?” Not everyone is moved to be a social justice warrior. Not everyone has the wherewithal to solve the problems we face at a widespread level. However, each one of us can ponder, who is my neighbor? What is my responsibility as a good neighbor. How can I show love or demonstrate the golden rule? The difficulties of our day will ultimately be solved neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, stranger to stranger. WHEN we care at that level, THEN there can be unity and healing.

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