We hate what we fear. It’s more comfortable to feel hate than fear because somehow it seems less vulnerable and being vulnerable is to be avoided at all costs, we’ve learned.
We don’t always say we hate, though. We’d rather say, “That’s illogical” (and, thus, not to be considered seriously) or “That’s immature” (and, so, unworthy of attention) or “That’s what they asked for” (and I can’t do anything about their poor choices). We separate ourselves from “them,” having already separated ourselves from what we fear inside ourselves–vulnerability, pain, sorrow, hopelessness.
And isn’t it some form of hate to talk about another disparagingly or to ridicule someone who chooses another path? Probably what we hate most is our own vulnerability so when we see it mirrored in another, we simply direct the hate we already feel about that part of ourselves towards the other person or group. How often are unsophisticated country folks portrayed as yokels? We have felt humiliated by having an older brother or cousin laugh at our confusion so don’t admit it anymore. But we’ll laugh at others.
A client this week said, “Life wasn’t supposed to be the way it turned out.” Is there a more controlling statement? Implicitly she was declaring, “I know what reality is and how it should look and what is is not that.” She was assuming God’s role. How better to eliminate vulnerability? We so want to be comfortable that we will cut huge areas of ourselves off rather than own them and heal them. When we dissect ourselves, we dissect the reality we are willing to look at and to know both inside of ourselves and around us in other people.
What happens when we don’t reflect and don’t question our unwillingness to own our vulnerability or to experience our feelings but prefer our intellectualizations and deluded bifurcations? When we get too sure that we know “how life should be,” we may forget that we are here to learn. Not to be comfortable. Not to be right. Not to impose our choices on others.
Wisdom leads us to accept what is if our commitment is to grow and to learn. That’s vulnerability in capital letters–simply accepting situations we find and people we encounter and feelings which arise with no thought or judgment involved, no resistance. Saying “Yes,” and then allowing ourselves to be flooded with whatever experience (inner or outer) life delivers.
Why don’t we make that choice to learn from life rather than trying to manipulate and control? Our fear. Fear is one of our most basic feelings. We’re not born knowing hate–we learn that. We know fear when we are infants. Fear stays with us when we push it out of our awareness and use every means we can to avoid it–intimidation, intellectualization, denial. And yet accepting our fear and our vulnerability would heal so much discord in our relationships and within ourselves. Not doing anything, just accepting and allowing and breathing.
Ruth Cherry, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Luis Obispo, CA. Her specialty is midlife when psychological and spiritual dynamics merge. The power of the unconscious at midlife to heal and to transform is tapped in meditation. Besides writing about meditation, Ruth leads guided meditation groups weekly both for the public and for inmates in a state penitentiary. Her web site is http://www.meditationintro.com/