Healing our state of psychological insecurity by cultivating unconditional self-acceptance is crucial to our survival.
One of the strategies for dealing with the stress of being in a state of insecurity is to criticise others. It distracts attention away from the flaws we know exist in us and it gives us the illusion that we are doing something meaningful for the world. How is the world going to get better, if nobody points out what everyone is doing wrong? We see it all the time in responses to cultural expression. Is this movie racist, because only one of the characters isn’t white? Is this painting misogynist because it depicts a sexy woman and was painted by a man? Once we championed cultural expression which extended diversity without feeling the need to criticise that which didn’t. But now everything is put on trial and the beauty and meaning of the work is often seen as secondary to passing such interrogation.
Selfish or malevolent behaviour is the product of our insecurity, and much of that behaviour is experienced by the individual who exhibits it as defensive. So the real danger is that, if our behaviour is criticism-led rather than healing led, we may end up with a social meltdown in which nobody is capable of behaving in a constructive way.
Some will collapse into suicidal depression and others will be pushed over the edge into out-and-out malevolence, while most flounder around, unable to make sense of themselves or any of what is going on.
Some may look at all the protest movements that attract so much attention and say : “At last, the put-upon are fighting back and the oppressors are being held accountable.” But I can’t see it that way.
A breakdown in the often unjust power structures can be a positive thing, but only if accompanied by a healthy basis for something better.
It is very easy for people who have been made insecure by being hurt to lose themselves in a social movement that allows them to express frustration, but psychological security is what allows us to act individually for ourselves. It is what allows us to have genuine integrity. When we act as a group to express our frustration, we are not necessarily empowered – we are more likely surrendering our capacity for power in our own lives to the group. It’s a dangerous path to go down.
And that’s why it needs to be countered by a culture which grows psychological security, individuality, integrity and, with it, greater capacity for forgiveness rather than condemnation. There is a danger that, in our eagerness to condemn others, we will condemn ourselves to an unliveable society.
For more, download my free ebook How to Be Free.