Before we begin I would like to point out that in these articles I am not preaching a specific viewpoint or belief system, but rather attempt to explore the dynamics which create them.
The exploration of trauma is a helpful tool in understanding what creates our conditioned and reactive response in any given situation.
The understanding that much of the way we interpret and interact with the world is based on survival adaptations is a helpful lens to assist us in viewing our behaviour objectively, and exposing the root causes behind the surface phenomenon.
In this article I am going to explore some sensitive topics, such as binary vs non binary, vaccine vs anti vaccine, religion vs spirituality and so on.
These can be very sensitive topics for a lot of people and cause a lot of division and conflict. So before we begin I would like to point out that I am not stating any for or against ideologies, views, beliefs or experiences.
I am not stating any personal opinion but rather exploring and exposing the dynamics that create these kinds of divides and conflicts within our culture and society. The fact that some of these topics may be a choice and others not a choice is irrelevant to the unconscious forces that drive social reactivity, it is the reactivity, the control, projections and traumatic effects of these reactive divisions I am exploring.
The underlying division around the world is always the same, but plays out on the surface as different topics and of recent times has become much more intense and visible.
So let's explore some of these sensitive concepts from a trauma informed perspective, whilst deconstructing the underlying structures that create and perpetuate division.
In the argument of gender and non gender approaches to parenting, language, and culture, the view point for a long time has been one of masculine and feminine, boys are boys and girls are girls; dependent on their physicality. This been the basic perspective of culture for a long time.
If we explore this viewpoint and its impact, we will see there are many structures which govern the way we relate to those of a specific “gender”, including expectations and projections on how a boy should act vs how a girl should act, and some of these projections are extremely damaging.
Ideas like boys don't cry and boys need to be masculine can cause all kinds of problems, and this doesn't touch on the experience of someone whose experience of gender does not match their physicality also receiving these kinds of projections.
This approach and way we relate to gender often comes from our own contorted personality structures, these beliefs about “how things should be'' are nothing more than a superimposition over the actuality of how things are.
These projections are what forces people to adapt and disconnect from who they are, they are often forced into a mode of functioning that forces them to disconnect from how they feel about themselves.
Underneath all of that what drives these kinds of views are our own insecurities and need to control. There is no denial that these kinds of ideologies can be damaging and inflict a large amount of trauma in children and adults alike.
The victim adapts their personality, disowns and dissociates from certain aspects of themselves that do not fit the criteria or expectations of their parents and culture.
When this happens the personality becomes oriented around survival, and the person disconnects from their own essential authenticity and the truth of their experience, herein lies the trauma, which then elicits a response.
In response to this trauma and in an attempt to fix and undo the damage, the opposite end of the spectrum is the denial of masculinity and femininity all together and an attempt to control and force others to change, with expectation, projection and judgement on those who refuse or show hesitancy.
Due to the pain inflicted by the initial viewpoint we then adapt and attempt to create new societal structures and ideals which appear to remedy the ones that caused the damage in the first place.
We take the opposing stance on how society should function, sometimes to its extreme. These attempts at controlling and forcing change are also based on insecurity created out of a response to the trauma inflicted by the opposing view, this then creates cycles of defence and attack, craving and aversion, which create more division and more trauma, both sides disconnect and react to each other.
These ideas on how things should function within a society are created in an attempt to resolve the damage done by the first, which is of course understandable, though based on a misunderstanding as to how healing occurs.
They can come from the same insecurities and need to control and have the potential to inflict more trauma and cause more division within ourselves and our culture.
This then causes conflict, both sides feeling helpless and out of control, endlessly reacting to each other. This paragraph is not stating that the experience of gender or non-gender is a viewpoint, but rather to expose the underlying driver that's causing the current divide and separate views on how society should function, again just a reminder that we are exploring the social reactions and responses through the lens of trauma.
The same happens with the vax vs anti vax viewpoints, we have our own sense of what is true for us and what we want to do and out of our need to control, our fear of being controlled and deep insecurities we project, expect and reject the experience of others.
The opposing viewpoint becomes a threat to our viewpoint, and because we feel our survival is dependent upon the survival of our view, we then out of fear begin to meddle in the lives of others.
The people who do not want the vaccine feel it is their job to attack those who do want it, out of fear, the people who did get it feel it is their right to judge, attack and force those who don't. This perpetuates division and conflict not only in our culture but within ourselves. This again all comes from our own underlying sense of insecurity and need to control.
Until we give others the freedom to be themselves, then we will never be free.
Even though this may be a completely different scenario on the surface with very real and valid differences to the gender situation, the underlying energy that creates the reactivity, conflict and division is the same.
Let’s now take a look at organised religion, this is probably the most obvious form of dogma and ideology where a belief system and viewpoint becomes an absolute truth which has caused division and conflict to go to extreme levels.
This can be taken as far as saying that anyone who disagrees with my view is going to hell, is demonic or is not worthy of salvation, and at one point even crucified!
Throughout history we have killed each other by the millions in an attempt to force our views onto each other, murdering and excommunicating anyone who threatens our fundamentalism.
This insecurity and fear is something that is at the core of all human conflict and is the same driving force we see now that causes the conflicts in the topics above, and that caused the conflicts throughout history.
If someone believes something other than us, we take it upon ourselves to either “save” or “heal” this person, or attack and prevent them from expressing their view.
Something in us feels threatened by anyone who experiences or sees things differently. Out of a response to organised religion's dogmatic approach has come a new age form of spirituality, one that can deny, disconnect and bypass some of the the wisdom that exists within the ancient approaches to spiritual realisation.
Again, we move to the opposite end of the spectrum as a response to the damage inflicted by the first. We end up with a deep hatred and aversion to words like God, overlook some of the more valuable teachings, and disconnect from those who may still follow organised religion.
So, if we look at these topics that on the surface can have very real differences, but the reactivity and division itself is actually a manifestation of a much deeper inner division that has remained unconscious throughout human history.
This is how humans adapt to survive, we experience pain due to a certain circumstance, and out of that pain we create an adaptation to deal with that pain, the first view and experience creates pain, and in response adapts and manifests an opposing reaction.
The structures that birthed the trauma, then create an opposing force and a response to that trauma. This is the essence of the term “trauma response” but it is playing out on a collective scale.
The issue here is one of an inherent disconnect within human beings. When we respond to trauma and act from our pain and attempt to resolve the issues with our society by adapting in ways that attempt to control, fix and prevent it from happening again, we are coming from the very same sense of fear and insecurity that created it in the first place.
We are actually perpetuating the very pain we wish to stop and are further disconnecting from the truth. I find it fascinating to explore the dynamics that give rise to how we experience the world, and when we deconstruct our experience right down we will end up at this raw, insecure, primal fear which is governing our species collectively.
A large amount of what we do, how we have structured our society, how we function in our culture and all of our viewpoints and ideologies and beliefs are just adaptations arising out of the core sense of fear and insecurity that exists in the state of separation.
So, the practice then is one of simply seeing this within ourselves, turning back around toward what is driving us. Making conscious all the ways I project my own stuff onto others, and the practice then is to allow them to be as they are.
To respect their right as a sovereign being to have their own views and their own experience, being humble enough to admit that I do not know what is right for them or what their experience is.
If parents did this with their children then their children would not have any issue with who they are, how they felt on the inside and the subjective experience of their gender would be no one else's business and they would come to know it in their own time, they would have no need to adapt or disconnect and the trauma would be prevented.
On the other side of the coin, if we allow people to use whichever language feels right for them but at the same time are able to have our own sense of boundaries of which language we are ok with when being directly spoken to, then we are not creating the same sense of helplessness and no control within those who choose to live by different structures and language, the harm gets done from both sides of the division, the need to force or control others to submit to our expectations is an act of cruelty and we do that on both sides of all divisive situations.
If people did this with the vaccine, we would have prevented the whole brutal divide that has split families and people apart over the last few years.
We can act from a place of allowance, embrace and accept each other only when we have the capacity to directly meet this primal fear and insecurity within ourselves. Whilst it remains unconscious it governs our lives, when it is conscious and we are able to meet and hold it we can choose to act differently.
From here we can still have viewpoints, we can still have preferences and we can engage in discussion about different views and what may be a better way of functioning without the need to attack, defend or force others to submit to our will or our way of looking at it.
Simply put we learn to have a healthy dialogue about these kinds of sensitive topics, without it ending in emotional, verbal or physical violence.
As I stated in the beginning this is not an article to agree or disagree with any kind of view point on either side of these divisions, but rather to explore the dynamic that creates the division itself and perhaps offer some insight in how trauma and our survival physiology governs and dictates much of the issues we see currently in our society and culture.
Peace & Blessing,
Matt Nettleton (Co-Creator of Embodied Processing)