It’s the season of Thanksgiving. But are you ready to see the blessing of your human wholeness?
Last night, at the Intensive Learning Community (an ongoing group I lead), a participant (I’ll call her Amy) was feeling mixed about celebrating Thanksgiving. “Now that I understand what a myth I’ve been believing [about the Pilgrims and American Indians having a harvest dinner together], and am beginning to see what really happened, I don’t know what to do. And now Charlie Rose, too–?! I feel like I’m little and I’ve learned the truth behind the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus all at once. And I want to go back to not knowing.”
Our country has been lurching through a seemingly endless series of ugly truths being revealed.
Person after person has had his public mask pulled off, leaving us to stare at the trail he left behind him of sexual harassment and assault. This, in the context of our country being in the midst of an apparently ever-widening political schism. Stepping back to watch public discourse from a bigger perspective, the arguments given ultimately remind me of any couple in conflict: “You’re the bad one.” “No, I’m good. You’re the bad one!” We heave statistics and “facts” back and forth at each other, hoping to justify our fear and support our own righteousness.
I asked Amy to do a process with me in front of the group. It’s a brilliant exercise developed by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks called FACT, which stands for Face, Accept, Choose, Take Action.
Here’s what FACT looked like last night.
Me: Can you tell me what the issue is you’d like to deal with?
Amy: Hmmmm. I guess–they suck! Those people suck. White men…white men suck!
Me: OK. Put the issue somewhere outside of you, out into space.
Amy: It’s over there, in that corner.
Me: Good. Now let’s turn around, away from that issue. (We turn our backs to the corner and stare at the wall behind us.) When you’re ready, start facing into the corner, into the issue, asking yourself the question, “What is it about this issue I haven’t fully faced?”
Amy: OK. (Turning slowly around, looking, her face curious and a bit chagrined.
Me: What’s the first thing you thought of?
Amy: Wellll…that I suck. (Standing, her face tilted thoughtfully)
Me: What’s happening in your body?
Amy: I’m not sure…I feel some lightening in my torso…
Me: So let me ask you the next question? What is it about this issue that you haven’t fully accepted?
Amy: (Pause) That we ALL suck!
Me: Ah, yes, let’s be with that. Are you breathing? Notice the energy in your body, let yourself breathe. What are you feeling?
Amy: Relief. My body is relaxing.
Me: OK, good. Keep breathing. My next question is–what do you really want?
Amy: Hmmm. I want honesty. I want to know. And connection.
Me: Connection, honesty. To know.
Me: So different from where you started.
Me: OK, here’s my last question. What would be a simple, easy, fun action you could take towards creating honesty and connection?
Amy: (Pause) I could ask hard questions.
Me: OK. Is that easy and simple and fun? How about challenging questions? Or maybe deep ones?
Amy: Yes. Deep questions.Me: OK, so you’ll ask deep questions. How about one deep question with one person? With whom and by when?
Amy: I’ll ask my partner by Thanksgiving.
Me: Terrific. Thank you!
I love what Amy walked through, as she did what we all probably need to do. She started with her own projection (it was all about “them”), faced into what in her was keeping the projection going, and moved the energy behind that so that she could come back into alignment with her own truth.
I suck, you suck, we all suck. I believe that to be true.
Although, let me be clear: that sucky bad place is just one state of consciousness (Shame). (You can download a clearer copy of the Inner Map here.)
We each have every state of consciousness in us (see more here about the Inner Map) and are fully capable of viewing ourselves and the world (as well as acting from) every state.
Within every one of us is the potential to be a tyrannical, submissive, cold-hearted, guilt-ridden, explosive, overwhelmed, freaked out, mean, sanctimonious, cowardly, and on and on. Because all of those states are built into our functioning. Every one of them has a purpose, a use to who we are and how we interact with each other.
And then, look, look Above the Line. There’s the rest of the story of how humans behave when we’re not perceiving threat. We can be neutral philosophers (“It is what it is”) and accepting saints. We appreciate beauty and paradox and absurdity. We love as well as any being on the planet. We create joy and have entire seasons collectively devoted to peace.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us bring the blessing of our whole human beingness into the circle of grace.
Let us face into our genocidal past. Let us dare to confront our collective tendency to misuse power and exploit those we have power over. Let us bravely look at how careless we can be with nature, with the sacred. Let us stare into our longing for tribal inclusion and see how it depends on making others wrong and bad.
As we turn and face into the entirety of who we are as humans and accept what it means to live with a Reactive Brain, we can allow our accumulated sadness, fear, and anger to dissolve. By enfolding those dense emotions with true love and acceptance , our essential natures can emerge. Then we can give thanks for the true miracles of our existence: The ability to love, to feel joy, and to create peace.
Join me for The (Core) Essentials Weekend December 8-10 in Boulder, Colorado. Details here.