Friday, September 22nd 2017

A lawyer’s spiritual defence

Sometimes the best resistance to a sense of “raging chaos” is non-resistance

stoptheinsanityGUEST COLUMN: JANET SMITH WARFIELD — A good and spiritual friend of mine once posed the question: “How do you resist insanity?”

Then she answered her own question.

“The only way for me, as an individual, to resist is to hold on to who I am amidst all of the forces that want to turn me into something else.”

At first, I thought: “What a wonderful answer! It truly is all about staying centered when external chaos swirls around us. Each of us must stand tall when insanity claws at our clothes.”

But then I thought about all the physical forces in my life that have swept me away from what I thought was solid ground, and into the raging current.

What was the purpose of those experiences?

Lessons learned during troubled times

1. I learned: I could keep my head above water and swim. When you’re struggling to stay alive, you don’t have a lot of fear. You’re just doing what you need to do to survive. The spiritual benefits were increased self-esteem, courage, and strength.

raging-sea2. I learned: Appreciate the chaos of raging waters. They carried me to psychic depths I never would otherwise have experienced. The spiritual benefits were depth of understanding and enhanced clarity.

3. I learned: raging waters could teach me compassion. As I struggled through the physical challenges, I suffered through a soul struggle within myself: anger, fear, frustration, and how to make ethical choices. I could then feel and understand that soul struggle in others.

Does one resist insanity or just release it and move on? That has been a constantly recurring question in my life. Usually, I’m stubborn. I exhaust every viable avenue for reducing the insanity before I’ll release it and walk away.

Insanity is the realm of bullies and dictators. Choosing to resist their arrogance, violence, and control issues can have huge spiritual benefits, both for the individual resisting, for the bullies, and for the world. It equalizes the playing field and reduces the bullies’ dysfunctional power.

However, if one chooses to resist insanity, there are non-functional and functional ways of doing so.

Spotting the non-functional ways

1. Allowing oneself to get sucked into the dictator’s insanity
2. Screaming
3. Name-calling
4. Hitting
5. Killing
6. Being nice because you’re afraid to set limits and to say ‘no’ and then continuing to feel anger
7. Becoming passive-aggressive
8. Continuing to bang your head against a stone wall that won’t budge

Take this path instead

1. Standing firm in one’s own spiritual identity. This takes a lot of energy when you’re being battered by dysfunctional human beings. You’re just like a lightning rod, standing there all alone, taking that dysfunctional energy and grounding it so it doesn’t harm either you or others.

You won’t have enough energy to do that by yourself. If you can trust in and connect to a Power Greater than yourself, you have access to unlimited energy and resources.

white-light2. Visualizing a shield of white light surrounding you that deflects the negative energy back to the perpetrator.

3. Sometimes turning the other cheek. Turning the other cheek often defuses the negative external energy. Why? Because the dysfunctional person expects you to fight and you don’t. It confuses them. The exception is when turning the other cheek is perceived as weakness rather than strength.

4. Setting boundaries or limits on bad behavior and sticking to them.  Remove your energy from the bad behavior. Stop enabling it by giving it your attention (If necessary, physically remove the offending person from your environment and allow him or her to cope without your support).

5. Walking away so you don’t continue to feed the insanity with your presence and willingness to listen.

One of the best lessons I ever learned was from a judge I highly respected. One night, I was complaining about a former boss at a law firm. I was furious with this arrogant, obnoxious male who kept changing his mind about what he wanted and had me working eighty hours a week.

I was thoroughly mired in angry, dysfunctional energy and was focusing on the externals that I perceived “caused” my anger. I was also looking for sympathy. My judge friend just turned his back on me and walked away. My tirade immediately stopped because I had lost my audience. It also made me think about my own dysfunctional conduct.

If one doesn’t have enough spiritual centered-ness or enough of a support system to resist insanity in functional ways, it may be better to walk away and move on with one’s own life. It seems that is often the way a spiritual path is intended to go.

Making the right choice . . . for you

I used to ride my bike along the boardwalk in Atlantic City at sunrise. When I was riding into the wind, it was slow and difficult, yet I was building muscles and stamina. When I was riding with the wind, it was incredibly fast and easy.

Resisting insanity is like riding into the wind. It can be done. Sometimes it needs to be done. It takes a lot of energy, but you become stronger in the process.

Walking away and moving on with your own life is like riding with the wind. It requires no energy at all. You simply trust and allow your Higher Power to support you easily and swiftly.

Regardless of the decision you make, you will grow spiritually.

janetJanet Smith Warfield is a retired attorney, author, publisher, grandmother, mediator, and poet.

She is the author of Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World. Find out more about Janet via her website and blog.

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6 Comments on “A lawyer’s spiritual defence”

  1. Thanks for all of the practical tips, I'm going to put some into practice immediately.

  2. Thank YOU for sharing Angel!

    Embracing in Gratitude.

    I suppose how one CHOOSes to experience "insanity" has much to DO with how one Defines it :O)

    Blessings of LOVE's Light

  3. Janet, this is so helpful. Each of us love hearing these specific touchstones, as opposed to generalized lofty sermons. Thank you for your personal narratives. Thank you for so accurately and cogently sharing your life learning, and lawyering :)

  4. I prefer to ride with the wind instead of against it. Great article. Thank You.

  5. Loved the article. When showing compassion for others I allow them to release their anger and fear. After all, they are not my thoughts or feelings that they are letting go of. Knowing who I am helps a lot in enabling me to stay centered, but I also reflect that even the insane can see themselves as perfectly sane. It is 'us' who define 'them' as insane because they do not share our view of the world.

    Who among us leads 'normal lives' anyway. I am sure we all display some behaviors that others would describe as 'insane'. Women scream at pop idols, people enjoy boxing, go on retreats, commit suicide, take abuse from bosses, remain silent when they see someone being abused, continually start diets - even though they fail. To some people, these these things will appear 'insane' and those who engage in them as 'dysfunctional' in some way.

    The power of your article is that we have to take responsibility for our own choices and how we decide to see reality. It is up to us to set limits on our own behavior and influence others by our example. I am not convinced that walking away is the answer. There is more to be gained by questioning to help the other person think more deeply about what drives them to behave that way and what think they gain from it. They may find an inconsistency in how they act and the values they espouse.

    I watched Nick Griffin on TV the other night struggle to understand why others thought he is 'insane' to hold the views he does. He thinks it is his persecutors that are insane. I saw his persecutors as fearful and angry. I think they would do well to read your article.

  6. Steve, this is such a wonderful, in-depth response. I agree with just about everything you've written. You are absolutely right that the bottom line is that each of us has to take responsibility for our own choices and how we decide to see reality at each moment in time.

    For myself, the way I choose to see reality (whatever that is) can shift from moment to moment depending on the dynamic going on between me and another person. What I am ultimately intending to do is create an energetic exchange that will move what feels to me like an unbalanced relationship toward more harmony.

    Is there an objective definition of sanity or insanity? Probably not. The closest I can come to defining sanity is a harmonious, balanced relationship where both parties are actively and consciously choosing and participating in order to create a win/win relationship that benefits all.

    I am not convinced that walking away is the answer either, but I also know there have been moments in my own life when I have felt so totally drained that I have had to remove myself, even if only temporarily, from environments that felt toxic and people who felt like energy vampires. Examples have been men (and yes, I do mean men) who have screamed at me, blasphemed me, tried to force my car off the road, angrily smashed glasses against walls.

    I am wondering whether there is an experiential difference here between men and women. Are women more likely to be subjected to this kind of behavior because they are physically less strong? Is it a power struggle, with (some) men wanting to control women, for sexual and financial reasons, and women struggling for their freedom?

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