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Peace Building from the Inside Out: A Chat w/Sher Griffin, Founder of The Compassion Collective

Are You a Peace Builder?

What does that even mean? There are those who label themselves as the peace maker of the family, for example, but what is their unconscious motivation for playing the role of peace maker? Are they really engaged in peace building or are their efforts to quell discontent motivated by discomfort with conflict, a way to avoid the process of finding the deeper insights hiding in the conflict?

My friend Sher Griffin, Founder of The Compassion Collective, offers this formal definition of peace building:

"Peacebuilding refers to efforts aimed at creating sustainable peace by addressing the root causes of conflict and fostering reconciliation, development, and governance. It involves a comprehensive approach that includes various activities and processes designed to prevent the recurrence of violence by addressing structural and societal issues."

When Sher suggested that my mission and work as a depth psychology coach might be peace building work, I got excited about looking at this topic through a depth psychology lens. As I prepared for our conversation, I began to see peace building happening everywhere. It's hiding in plain sight, I said out loud, and then I laughed because this is the way of the meandering feminine.

In a world where conflict and division seem to be at a boiling point, propped up by a seeming regression in tolerance and empathy, it can be hard to see the bigger picture of how this regression is prompting a counter movement, a quiet rebellion of consciousness raising at the individual and micro level. Real change always comes from the grassroots and as CG Jung suggested, the fate of humanity depends upon the self-reflecting individual.

Patriarchy and all its systems are going down, but not without a fight. Power is never freely given back unless and until enough people figure out what real power is, the courage to withstand the vulnerablity needed for deep connection between humans. This is terrifying to many people because of the attachment to suffering, but this is also the key to our survival.

As Carol Gilligan suggests in her book Why Does Patriarchy Persist? (2018), patriarchy is now a defense mechanism unconsciously used to avoid that vulnerability. The sneaky feminine must trick the one-sided masculine, catch it off guard, so a space of neutrality can open up to usher in true partnership between the inner masculine and feminine. In this way, the grassroots creativity involved in modern peace building is establishing a new foundation for the future.

This work isn't easy. The over-worked masculine inside and outside is busy clinging to its old stagnant systems. Don't fret though. Everyone is playing their proper role, so don't worry about what others are doing, rather commit to inner peace building so you show up in the world differently, no longer triggered by other people's wounds, but can be the force of non-violent resistance, by holding neutral space. Believe me, your neutrality will catch the other person off guard, making it possible to disrupt their pattern of projecting their suffering onto you.

The climax of hate and intolerance are the lava exploding out of the volcano meant to get our attention and unleash a new way of being human that doesn't involve exploitation.

Depth Psychology as a Psychology of Reconciliation

Our conversation was exciting and hopeful, and I hope you will check it out. My biggest ah-ha was that depth psychology really is a reconciliation psychology that begins with inner reconiliation of forces that seem to be in opposition to each other. For example, my midlife unraveling was unexpectedly and surprisingly driven by the need to reconcile sexuality and spirituality. The core of depth psychology is reconciling perceived opposing forces, and the biggest perceived opposition is between the feminine and masculine styles of consciousness. My reconciling of sexuality and spirituality was a verson of the perceived oppositiion of my inner feminine and masculine.

There was a time when the feminine and masculine were revered equally, when their union, represented sexually, was also revered. You can learn more about my thoughts on the intersection of patriarchy and the writing of religious doctrine, especially that of Christianity, in other posts, but there was a pivot point when the masculine became over-valued and the feminine became relegated to an inferior status. Versions of religious doctrine have made it righteous to project this inferior feminine (which is in men and women and everyone) onto literal women, their bodies, their sexuality, and nature and to exploit and control it.

Underneath the compulsion to control and exploit is the fear of the feminine within. Depth psychology offers a framework to reconcile the inner division that manifests as projection onto the outer world. When individuals come into deeper relationship with their Self, they show up in the world differntly, able to see others for the fallible humans that they are. As the emotional reactions subside, and we are not as triggered by others' objectively bad behavior, we can see more clearly what our options are for how to respond effectively. This is our work today. To heal our own inner division to be able to respond more effectively to the outer division that is climaxing right now.

Whatever is triggering you, whoever is triggering you, find the lesson you are supposed to learn. You do not need to excuse the bad behavior, rather explore the root of your emotional reaction, process it and come into relationship with that part of you. Suddenly, you will find yourself calm in those once triggering situations, able to see what you couldn't see before, and maybe have the presence of mind to be curious about the other person's suffering by asking, "Why do you believe that?"

A Practical Tool

My conversation was so rich, but we also wanted to offer a practical way for you to begin doing your own inner peace building, which will automatially manifest as a natural peace building capacity out in the world. Whenever you find yourself experiencing a negative emotion, especially when you're with other people, see if you can catch yourself. Take a breath and be curious about the old thing that's being replayed in the moment.

Pay attention to the complexity of your emotion and where it is in your body. Just that small reflection will help bring relief from the discomfort of the emotion. Later on, ask yourself this queston: What is my earliest memory of experiencing this emotional reaction? Journal about your memory and see if you can find the dynamic that is showing up in your life now. Once you find it, you'll be able to see that same dynamic playing out in your life in different ways. The once automatic emotional reaction will begin to lose power and be replaced with clarity about the present issue that has been clouded by an old event. You'll be more effective in responding to the "bad" behavior or the current situation.

The dynamic is an inner character that has been protecting you, but now it's in the way of expanding your consciousness. Active imagination is another tool you can use to learn to relate to this part of you instead of shoving it into the closet of your unconscious where it sneaks out as those emotional reactions that are disproportionate to the situation. Enjoy this guided meditation with active imagination.

I hope you enjoy listening to or watching my converstion with Sher about peace building. You're going to start seeing peace building all around you.

Thanks for being a self-reflecting human!

Dr. Deborah

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