Part 1 of 2. Read Part 2 here
A war is raging on. It is raging both in our minds and in our lives. Few can move through the day without engaging in the war, whether they want it or not. This is not a war of guns and ammo. This is a war against happiness and peace of mind.
Please note: this article is not a commentary on what is right or wrong, but rather an effort to point out how we do ‘war’ and the effects that this is going to have on future generations.
How We Make War.
1. We Judge Ourselves and War Rages Within.
The most prolific way the mind judges is by taking a critical view of the person in the mirror. These judgments lead to a war within ourselves, where sadness, depression, and hopelessness can run amok. The pain of judging ourselves is sometimes hidden and sometimes not. But it is pain, and it is quite real.
WE learn to judge from everyone and everything we see and hear. From mom and dad to teachers and coaches, all the way to the Internet, movies, and the culture surrounding us…judgments abound. But the seeds of the harsh judgments of ourselves are often found in the home environment, and in the critical ways in children are judged for their actions.
The judgments can be harsh, ugly, and relentless. These harsh internal opinions can be about appearance, comments made to others, perceived poor performance, not having arrived at a particular position in life, losing one’s temper … and the list could go on.
The point is this: This war is against ourselves, and we pay a tremendous price when we accept and entertain these judgments. If persistent, these negative thoughts lead to depression and withdrawal from life and ultimately spoil any chance for happiness.
2. We Judge Others and War Rages.
The mind will also judge others, and do in extremely ugly and demeaning ways. This type of war is endorsed and supported in the current environment when the ugliness is shared publicly. But whether we express our judgments of others, or we keep it within, all these judgments of others lead to anger and violence.
For most of us, these judgments are perhaps not shared openly. Nonetheless, we feel anger. If we share it, there may be a few moments of a cathartic release, thinking this is healthy and good for us. It is not. The judgments return quickly, more empowered for more anger.
Thus, while judging ourselves tends to lead to depression, the harsh judgments of others leads to anger and violence. Either way, it’s war.
In The End, War Begets More War.
It’s quite simple. Thoughts feed on similar thoughts. Judgmental thoughts feed on similar judging thoughts. Negative thoughts feed on negative. If the judgments come out in anger, we know that anger feeds on anger.
Thus, war will beget more war. It’s inevitable without change.
At the moment, there are those at war with themselves, reaching out in unprecedented numbers to get help with their sense of sadness and depression. There is a true mental health crisis occurring in most countries due to the many and varied effects from COVID.
More obviously, there are those at war with others, expressing their anger and frustration publicly and at times violently. This war is all over our phones, computers and even our dining room tables. This war is particularly problematic, as the endorsement of negative, demeaning, personalized attacks on others is seen by children, teens, and adults.
We then teach them that endorsing ugly, negative judgments is a desired trait. In that, of course, we teach them about how to conduct war with ugly judgments. And they learn to engage in this war when others differ from your view.
To grow up with such anger and ugliness can only lead to more and more ingrained judgments that go unchecked. It’s as if we have become comfortable, perhaps immune, to the seemingly unending exposure to violence and ugliness.
To suggest that there is something more important than what we model for our youth is utter blindness and naivete. They will be our leaders, our teacher, and the parents of our grandchildren.
War is War.
The bottom line is this: The mental war we have with others is rarely, if ever, useful. This process will not bring happiness and fulfillment. In fact, the literature is clear: the more we express our anger, the more anger we will have in our lives.
Likewise, the war we have with ourselves is rarely useful. That process also destroys happiness.
So why can’t we see this when it is happening. We destroy our own happiness. We destroy relationships. We destroy our bodies.
All because the harsh judgments that arise are simply accepted as true.
And who really wants that? Only a mind seeking to be right all the time! (And unfortunately, this is human nature.)
When the same mind that creates the ugly judgments insists that those judgments are correct, then that person WILL end up at war. Either with themselves or with others. Often both.
Next week, I will consider how we begin to end this war, by starting with the only person you can help: the person in the mirror. Become interested in how you can abandon the war by choosing to have some disinterest in the judgments that bring you to distress in any form, whether with self or others.
Part 1 of 2. Read Part 2 here