By Lisa Meuser.
“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave.” Buffy, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
“Empowered People Will Change the World.” Lisa Meuser
I’ll get back to these quotes in a minute. Before bravery, comes naming what gets in our way of truly living in the world… what gets in the way of bravery.
It’s routine for clients to say something like… “Everything that is happening is my fault.” Upon hearing these sentiments I find myself taking a deep breath.
This sentence is communicating a lot to me. For one, it lets me know that we’re getting into deep territory – which is good news. It also reminds me how deep the oppressive dominant narrative is for humans.
I know what has been constructed inside that person’s mind, that allows them to believe these lies of blame, this depth of shame. These are the workings of the oppressive dominant narrative that has been around for decades, centuries, millennia. We all have been born from this construction.
Most of us can tangibly see how we’ve been incarcerated by the self-blame oppressive narratives of our mind, in some way or another:
- “If only I had done/said X, Y wouldn’t be happening…”
- “I am suffering right now, and it’s my fault…”
- “I knew better but I did X, so I deserve Y….”
- and so on, and so on.
There are so many variations of this oppressive, judgmental, and often self-loathing narrative. We routinely beat up on ourselves, from the inside of our minds – sometimes all day long, sometimes without even knowing that we’re doing this. In a roundabout way, we blame ourselves as a way to try to have agency, but it is an unsustainable strategy, and only leads to more disempowerment. And yet, for some, this is the only strategy known.
Some may say: “What about accountability for ourselves? Maybe in some way what they are saying is true?” To that I say: Indeed! What about accountability?
As opposed to blame, the ability to move from accountability is empowering because we are able to consciously see our place in things, in a way that we can learn from. There isn’t harsh judgement or self-loathing in accountability, there is truth-telling, ownership, and most importantly: integrity.
- “I did X…”
- “Doing X had Y affect…”
- “Doing X has harmed/influenced Y, and I will make that right by Y”
- “In the future I will …”
Having an integrity practice profoundly helps us learn, as opposed to blame, love instead of loath, expand and grow instead of shrink in shame. Integrity necessitates self-awareness and compassion, making it tricky territory for most of us. Our culture doesn’t move from an Integrity or Accountability model, nor does it teach us how to have either – it just teaches us to blame. The result? Most of us are so deeply and unconsciously affected/disempowered by our oppressive culture that we lack the ability *to be empowered enough* to be accountable, responsible, and conscious participants.
Phew. I know that’s a lot to take in, so we have to take a step back, and see where we come from, literally.
A Culture of Disempowerment
We live in a culture that sets us up to be over-worked and under-nourished at the very depth of our souls, and then tells us that it’s our fault when we aren’t ________ <financially successful, smart, healthy, thin, beautiful, happy, etc>. This is most true for marginalized communities, who are most targeted and violated by oppressive dominant culture. But it is also true for all of us, in varying degrees.
Said in another way, it is *by design* that our oppressive culture blames people for their hardships, furthering the disempowerment wheel in the favor of more oppression. It is by design that we (unconsciously) take that oppressive dominant narrative into our very psyches, which reinforces the beliefs about our badness and our brokenness.
Our oppressive, dominant culture tries to break us – over and over and over again – through a fierce capitalistic model that values money over life, that pits us against each other in competition, that doesn’t care about our well-being but only what we produce, that rules by authority and power-over rather than co-creation and cooperation/we-ness, that punishes and blames rather than teaches us how to learn and grow from our past… and the list goes on and on.
Living In the World
It is by design that we don’t have a clear sense of agency, or the ability to be accountable for our actions. And it is by design that we often struggle to live in this world, sometimes finding ourselves lost, depressed, anxious, and/or angered into despair and helplessness.
Do you see how the oppressive dominant culture plays out in your own life? Can you see it in your own self-talk, or how you think about others? How blame-oriented are you? Are you aware when you are moving from empowerment, versus disempowerment? Do you have an integrity practice? Can you see your own lack of agency and disempowered ways of acting/thinking that keep you afraid and small?
Asking these questions is not always easy, but it is the asking of curious questions which may disrupt the spell of our oppressive culture.
As we wake up from the matrix of oppression, we naturally start to move into the field of possibility where we discover/remember what else is possible: an empowered way of living in the world that allows us to be connected to our creativity, our purpose, and our connection with all Life.
Once we start to see the oppressive construct that our culture has created, it starts to crumble, allowing an entirely different construct to rise up… the construct/matrix of Love and empowered participation with humanity.
To read more about Lisa Meuser, click here.