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The Smoke Screen of Right and Wrong

No matter where you go in the world, people tend to have a very rigid idea of right and wrong, should and shouldn’t, good and bad. The only thing is, people don’t agree on those ideas. Different cultures and families and individuals hold very different ideas about what is right and wrong. And most people refuse to question those ideas. But what most people don’t know is that rigid ideas of right and wrong tend to serve as a smokescreen for a specific pain or fear that a person is trying to prevent or avoid. Which is why people tend to be so unwilling to question them. 

Let’s dive into an example. First, let’s look at Devin. Devin has a very rigid idea of right and wrong regarding sharing information of a sensitive or personal nature. He believes that the right thing to do is to keep anything that might make people see someone in a negative light, private and secret. To share it, is wrong and bad. Anytime Devin sees a quote or meme about this, he posts it with a sense of righteous aggression. Last week, he posted three in a row. “Normalize not telling everybody everything.” “Privacy is not about something to hide, it’s about something to protect.” And “In a world where everyone is over exposed, the coolest thing you can do is maintain your mystery.”

The thing is, hiding underneath this rigid idea that privacy is right and divulgence is wrong, is a deep wound that Devin has not faced or healed. His avoidance of this deep pain is what is fueling the rigid nature of his idea as well as the intensity with which he defends that idea. Devin was raised by a mother who did not recognize any of his boundaries. For example, if he said no to food, he was force fed and later given a consequence for not eating. He was expected to meet his mother’s needs for affection as well as be affectionate with others, regardless of whether or not it made him uncomfortable. She decided he would play piano, despite the fact that he hated it with a passion. And she would tell Devin all kinds of terrible things about his father to triangulate him. In his teens, Devin’s mother read through his journal and found out that he had become interested in other boys. She immediately flipped out, made herself the victim to it and drug him to the church bishop for conversion therapy. This experience felt like such an intense violation and such an intense betrayal. There was no one around to help him to work through what happened. So, it became a huge trauma. He connected the very idea of divulgence/sharing/openness with the pain of not only this event, but also the pain of growing up with a boundary violator. He developed a serious aversion because of this. He saw privacy as the way to avoid this pain. This unresolved trauma of his often gets triggered by things like raw, open conversations or by reality TV shows where someone’s confessions are being broadcast to the world or by social media influencers who he is convinced are oversharing about themselves with the public. And if someone reveals anything about him to someone else behind his back, he considers them an enemy instantaneously. 

By deciding that divulgence is wrong and privacy is right in such a rigid way, Devin accomplishes many things. 

  1. It keeps him from touching into the pain beneath his fervency. The idea that divulgence is wrong… period the end… makes it not questionable. This means, he can leave it beneath the floor boards. And rather than focus on it, he can project a big NO outward toward the world. When people decide fervently that something is wrong and bad, it is like a huge “Nope. Decided. Not going there!” There is a resistance to exploring around that subject and an even bigger resistance to considering opposing opinions because it dredges up the fear and pain that they are avoiding with their rigid stance. In other words, it is a protection strategy.
  2. It makes the world feel stable and predictable and safe. If things are “right” and “good”, people are more likely to do it and if things are “wrong” and “bad”, people are less likely to do it, because people really want to be right and good and really don’t want to be wrong and bad.     
  3. It allows him to hold everyone else to the conduct that he, himself needs from others, without having to ask them. Instead, he can avoid having that direct conversation and simply guilt them if they fail to conduct themselves in that way. And even better, he can feel like he is right to have that expectation. 
  4. Making it a general rule for people, is a way of preventing other people from experiencing the pain he experienced. He runs the risk of globalized projection by doing this though. 
  5. It helps him to avoid his shame and instead feel relief in being the one who is in the right and therefore good. 

Of course, his rigidity is causing him problems as well as other people problems. For example, he lacks intimacy in his relationships and justifies keeping people at a distance. He does not communicate when he should. He refuses to be vulnerable enough for his therapist to be able to really help him break through. Other people who are friends with him feel like they are walking on broken glass around what they can and can’t talk about, which causes a lot of pain for them, especially for one of his friends who was the victim of incest that was kept secret, and who only feels safe when everything is out in the open for everyone to see. Devin is deeply lonely and everyone feels kept at arm’s length by him. And whenever someone shares something intimate or vulnerable on their social media accounts, they can look forward to being looked down on by Devin at the very least, assuming they don’t get a passive aggressive meme sent to them about privacy.

If Devin were to really, intentionally face his resistance to whatever he has judged as wrong and bad (in this case divulgence), he would end up smack dab in the middle of what was never resolved. The pain and fear residing in his being still that he is guarding and that keeps getting triggered or activated by anything that feels like divulgence or exposure. If he actually managed to do healing work around this pain and fear, the rigidness of his idea of right and wrong on this subject would dissipate, as would the emotional charge around it. And he would no longer be enforcing it as a rule on everyone in existence.  

Whenever you become aware of a charged idea of right and wrong, as an exercise, use that in the opposite way that it has been used before. Use it to alert you to the fact that there is a fear or pain that you are trying to avoid and go towards that fear and pain instead of away from it. Ask yourself “What am I using my ‘NO, this is wrong and bad’ to prevent or avoid?” And rather than prevent and avoid that thing, go there deliberately and consciously. Let the fear and pain arise. And work on healing what needs to be healed in whatever way you feel called to. If you want to try out two really amazing healing processes that will work on this, try emotional experiencing, which I explain in my video titled “How To Do The Emotional Experiencing Process.” Or/and The Completion Process, which you can learn how to do by reading my book quite literally titled: The Completion Process. You don’t have to panic about this exercise because this exercise is not about getting yourself to approve of something that is harmful or saying “Yes” to something that is a “No” for you or becoming something that you don’t want to become. Or losing a sense of conscience. It is about resolving your own resistance, fear and pain. It’s about healing what needs to be healed, so that you can approach the world in a better way.   

Humanity will be limited, approach things from the wrong angle, respond in the wrong ways, and cause themselves as well as other beings harm so long as rigid ideas of right and wrong remain a strategy for avoiding pain and avoiding fear. But you can step out of that cycle by diving into, exploring and resolving the fear and pain being smoke screened by your rigid ideas of wrong and right. And by doing so, set yourself free, approach things from a better angle, respond in the right ways, and benefit yourself as well as the other beings that share this earth with you.         


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