It has become something of a joke to ask “What do you want for Christmas?” or
“If you had one wish what would it be?” The answer is often said in a funny way, “world peace”. Case in point SNL December 2020.
Today I want to shine a light on a microcosm of world peace in what I am calling World Wide Web Peace. The truth of it is, is that no matter what is going on out there, it will never feel peaceful out there if there is no peace inside. Before I get into peace on the internet I need to tangent a bit for some understanding.
Recognizing we are not at peace within is more difficult than it appears. Here’s why.
We are really, really crappy at understanding and working with our emotions. It's not our fault or anyone's fault. It just is.
Here is a simple example that moves us away from inner peace and peace within our world:
Person A: “You didn’t pick up the dry cleaning today. You always do this. Now I have to take time out of my day to pick it up tomorrow. You are so…” insert your insult here.
Person B: “It’s not that much time out of your day….” They might use logic to invalidate the complaint and/or may add, Well, you….” insert rebuttal and return insults.
Sadly, dry cleaning is not really a good example. Life has much more complex, personal, and tender topics of conflict that begin with the same cycle of hurt. Am I right? If we were practiced with our emotions this conversation would go something more like this with 3 key parts in place.
1. Recognize the real physical emotion
2. Origin and perspective of the emotion
3. Willing and compassionate partner and the ability to understand emotions with perspective themselves.
Recognize the real physical emotion
When person A began the conversation, an emotion was already running the system. In a split second of time, the thoughts and story come second to the emotion. This is huge. The problem of dry cleaning was a secondary effect. A physical reaction came first. Emotion being a physical sensation in the body like when you have to pee. We all know that sensation. Emotions have a physical sensation. The emotional body uses the physical body to communicate an emotion.
So what is really the beginning of an argument is a physical sensation. Then, because we have belittled emotions as a society, we look to the mind to come up with why we feel the way we do... and it better be good, instead of what we are feeling. Imagine if when we had to pee we looked back over the last few hours and felt we needed an explanation or a why for that sensation. Crazy! With practice and awareness, we can begin to really understand what signals match what emotion.
If I really wanted you to describe what it feels like to have to go to the bathroom it would be difficult, but there is no doubt you know the sensations. And there is no expectation to just move those sensations aside and go about your day.
Emotions should be the same. If we can get clear on our emotions or how we are actually “feeling”, things change inside and in our world of relationships.
Origin and perspective of the emotion.
Experiences in childhood are our baseline for our world. Forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning, or whatever needed picking up, may have had a traumatic event tied to it as a child. Meaning, the story put person A's child body into an alert state of being. Meaning the heart started to beat faster. The breath sped up and the body was tense. These are the body’s response to trauma or feeling unsafe and the mind doesn’t see a difference between physical and emotional safety. Another word for safety is peace.
The damage that partner B does is to begin to logic around the emotion much like telling person A they really don’t have to pee or that they shouldn’t have to go pee. (the "why" that the mind came up with isn’t good enough and it’s partially correct because the why is not as important as the what)
Words like, “well you” or “at least” are ways we discount what feels like a threat being directed at person B because of our own physiological responses to our past “unsafe” situations. It can become a vicious cycle really fast. It’s not like understanding the origin needs to happen for each emotion - especially when the emotion is in full swing. It’s simply knowing that our perspective is perspective and not factual.
Each partner needs to take some responsibility in the interaction. Becoming aware of the increase of stress reactions in the body and not following them on their enticing trail. Realizing this trail has come from the past.
We need to be a willing and compassionate partner with the ability to understand and withstand.
If person A starts off on the trail of blame, person B can still save the interaction. Sometimes the burden lies on person B. It may not sound fair, but it really is a powerful place to be.
Ideally, person A shares that they are not feeling quite right inside. They can even bring up that, “when the dry cleaning doesn’t get picked up it makes me feel … angry, hurt, unloved etc. Both knowing these are just the best descriptive words for the elevated physiology happening in the body.
Person B supports person A asking to share more about the feeling, repeating back exactly what person A shared and asking, “did I get that right? Anything more?”
Little by little as the emotions inside person A spill out, the body calms down and now logic becomes attainable. In an elevated state, the logic side of the brain turns off.
Person B might get a chance to respond with person A repeating and asking if their repeat versions are right and if there is more. However, more likely than not, person A begins to remember the good things about person B and life in general, and since an argument never really began solutions start to become clear. Person A, although unable to completely describe it, feels a sense of inner peace, and then peace outside can be established as well. World Peace.
We have been given a microcosm of the world called the world wide web. It seems more and more we are bumping up against each other online similar to the feelings and reactions in the dry cleaning example. When someone “shares” are we in reacting mode or can we honor the sensation that person is having?
Often we skimp on likes or hearts because….why exactly?? Is there a finite amount of them? Does honoring the person and honoring what they are sharing the same thing or different?
Like person B, we hold a lot of power when we look past the share and into the soul of the person sharing. I encourage you to get some awareness about sensations going on inside while on the world wide web. Does it bring inner peace and if not what are the sensations describing?
It feels good when someone likes your post or share or someone comments? Right? You can give that goodness to others. That’s powerful.
We must ask ourselves “What we are feeling that makes us hesitant to click on a little thumb or a heart” and see what it is that stops us. And it’s fair to ask ourselves if it’s too much to click on a thumbs up or a heart in support of these people we call friends, then how are we reacting in the real world. How do we act around people that aren’t our so-called friends? Do we gloss over humans in our real life the way that we might gloss over people in this world of connected air? Also, do we share things that uplift and bring light to the world or do we share fear? Are we sharing down the trail of defending "why" when we should really get curious about "what"?
This little place of interaction through the airways of the Internet is a wonderful laboratory for world peace inside and outside. We have the opportunity to reach out easily and effortlessly to people online. So, for the next few days, write a comment on the post that you normally wouldn’t. Let your hearts and likes be just about connection, brotherhood, and sisterhood …..love.