Stories of the Unconcious Mind

I sit in a daze. I\’m at one of the most fun work conferences in the world and I am distracted by what I think is a devastating conclusion to the vile election that is 2016. Donald Trump has won, the Republicans who backed him took the senate, the house, and the remaining seats on the Supreme Court (presumably). I am sick thinking that the hateful rhetoric we have seen this last year will increasingly become more real, have greater consequences and will manifest in action that will hurt a huge proportion of people. As a woman, I feel completely disempowered. It doesn\’t matter how qualified you are, how many policies you\’ve helped enact, or how unfit your male counterpart is, when it comes down to it, misogyny wins. Sexism, bigotry, inflated ego, outright lies, ridiculous and unrealistic claims, racism, ableism has spoken and we have gone along with it.

What really gets me, is that I have heard so many of my friends say that they didn\’t know how much anger and hatred existed in the country, that this seemingly came out of nowhere. To that I say, look around. Look at the environment we have created and normalize. When an unarmed black teenager gets killed on the regular, we have a problem. When 1/3 women have been sexually assaulted, we have a problem. When the lives of thousands of refugees are dehumanized to the point of candy, we have a problem. The signs are there. They are here, in our world everyday around us.

I believe that the social sciences need to be emphasized more to develop literacy and understanding about how social issues affect others. I am disappointed, but not surprised by the outcome of this election. It\’s the same story, played over again and again. We willfully ignore the unpleasantness of who we are, we push it into our shadow and there is grows, unchecked and unobserved. We are unaware of our shortcomings, the dark places within us, so they manifest themselves in unpredictable and destructive ways. We convince ourselves that we are so different from the \”other\”, that we could never be \”that\”. \”Their\” presence haunts us because it is a very reflection of us. So we build walls, we lock our doors, we justify our fear with anecdotal stories that are often not based in fact-based reality. This is far from surprising.

Serendipitously, this morning I listened to an amazing keynote speaker, Shankar Vedantam, who spoke about storytelling and how the unconscious brain was wired to respond to stories. He brought up that evolutionarily, the brain is programmed to focus on loss, on risk, on what isn\’t working (presumably because if you didn\’t, you probably got eaten by a tiger). In my studies of the enneagram, I see the underlying emotions of fear, shame and anger driving us to act. Constantly. To think. Constantly. To feel. Constantly. It is not surprise or coincidence that these emotions create the foundation for how we view the world.

So when Trump ran a campaign of fear, of anger, of shame, we responded as a nation to that story. We bought into the story over facts, over data, and likely to our own detriment. We humans simply cannot resist a story of such dire proportions.

I am reeling in pain over this election. I see my false sense of security crumbling before me. I am deeply afraid for what the future will hold. This has fractured a part of me I didn\’t even know was bound together.

This shows me more and more the importance of doing my own inner work and helping others start their inner journey as well. I need to help tell a different story, because this man does not speak for me.

\”We have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.\” – Hamilton

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