Tag Archives | ptsd

Effective Positivity: Inspire All, Empower Only Good

EmpowerGood

Photo Credit: S. Braswell

People are not all equal.

That is, all deserve to be approached with openness, kindness, compassion, and the basics of humanity, but not all deserve much more beyond that. This is because there is such a thing as a bad person.

I was like many of you, once upon a time. I believed that everyone was inherently good, that many were just confused, lost, and that there were really no truly bad people. I therefore wasted my  energy in a lot of potential good, not actual good.

This is a tricky line to draw. People should be given the benefit of the doubt, and even those who make mistakes should be given a chance to show that they can be better than how they have been.

At least, in theory, it sounds reasonable. But, as with most credit-based systems in an open market, the potential for abuse is fairly high. (Check out our economy’s ledger if you need proof.)

I understand that “hurt people hurt people,” and I still believe in the majority of people being not-bad, even if they do things that harm others. But there is a small percentage (which equates to a large number, nonetheless) of people who truly are bad. Until this fact is acknowledged, these individuals will continue to cause serious damage to innocent, well-meaning, unassuming people, because bad guys understand and take tremendous advantage of the status quo ignorance.

Q: “How do you tell the difference between Good and Evil?”

A: “You give it power.” ~Marilyn Vos Savant

That answer stuck with me since I first read it in Marilyn Vos Savant’s column, one of my favorite go-to sections of The Washington Post when I was a kid. Its simple brilliant truth manifested itself through people I would meet and try to help throughout my life. The only caveat of this test is that by the time “evil” has been identified, power has been put into the wrong hands, and serious damage has often been done.

I was in a harmful relationship where I was once a Zen Ignorant – I was insistent that goodness was to be found in everyone. My perpetrator ex was simply confused because he did not grow up with the kind of love that I did. If I showed him kindness, compassion, patience, and encouragement, he would be inspired into becoming the same. Right?

What took me quite a while to figure out was that my ex understood, from very early on, my need to be fair and kind to others. So, he tailored his words and actions accordingly, and very effectively, to my detriment. This alone did not make him a bad person, though.

Not even did the fact that he knew to hide the things he did to me from the public and the law – any common criminal would do this, and not all criminals are actually bad people. (I know this because following our brother’s death, my surviving brother became a gangster. He did things that gangsters did, and felt the anger and lack of connection to his conscience during those years in order to survive in the streets. I get it.)

But my ex was not an adolescent/young adult who didn’t know better. He was not living in the streets, looking over his shoulder every second. He was not living in nor reacting from fear or violence. He was not mentally ill and needing medication, nor was he on drugs. Along with the lack of someday-pardonable reasons for his behaviors, what truly set him apart from a “lost/confused” person was the fact that my ex enjoyed causing me pain and seeing me suffer.

And this was made possible because I gave him power: the power to disconnect me from my own sense of worth and abilities; the power to flex his “paternal rights” through the court system as a means to continue to terrorize me for nearly a decade after I’d escaped him; the power to stay in this country and continue the cycle with other naive young girls.

Today, I am very mindful of whom I empower. I am openly kind to all that cross my path because I want to fill the world with whatever goodness that I can. But I do not empower everyone. The lesson on the dangers of empowering the wrong person is one of my greatest gifts from that dastardly period. My hard head about having a soft heart had to be split wide open to understand this. But yours doesn’t.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou

In retrospect, there were a lot of clues that my ex was one to be left slithering on the side of the road. If my mind were more open—seeing people as they were, not as I insisted they were (which was “good” and “nice”)—I would have recognized what I was dealing with. But it was fixated on ideals, and no fixation in our mind allows truth to clearly materialize.

Most people who do bad things are truly simply hurt, lost, and confused, some, terribly so. Help if you can, or walk away if you cannot. But keep this in mind:

Some people are just bad to the marrow of their bones.  It is not your responsibility to fix or help them, nor to even try to understand them. In fact, that you cannot comprehend, on any common level, their reasoning, is a good thing. Chances are, there is nothing to rationalize, for there’s nothing humane in the rationalization of seeking and finding pleasure in an innocent person’s pain. You just need to learn to recognize such individuals, and deal with them accordingly, as you would with any deadly serpent in your path.

8

The Deception of Facts

Although meant to be comical, my last post showed how our past experiences, the “evidences” from which we place a value for making future decisions, can affect the quality of our lives, because it affects how we respond to the world.

I grew up in a very Catholic, somewhat Americanized, Asian household = belief in the fair gamut of the unscientific.  My best friend grew up in a non-religious, very traditional Asian household = maybe some superstitions but nothing with conviction.  She went into the very scientific world of medicine; I went into the possibilities gateway of education (before I meandered onto the threshold of Where Dreams Come True, where I presently stand).

Throughout the years, we’ve each experienced traumatic events that have affected some of our beliefs today, whether on a conscious or unconscious level, and thus, have affected some of our actions and decisions accordingly.

I will share more of my story as we go along, but I want you to consider what life events happened to you that may be the source of why you do the things you do, or the source of your fears in life: what things were you told, did you witness, were you taught to “never forget” in order to be safe/loved/worthy?

Know that those messages of guilt-guided obligations, those lessons of yesteryear’s fear factors, are FALSE.

This is not to say that there is no truth in the past, but that the past has no weight-bearing truth in the present; it only bears the amount of weight today that you allow it to.  Worse, the further you carry it, the more the weight fuses into you: you shape your arm muscles around this giant rock, and they stiffen, fossilize so you can keep hanging on to it as seamlessly as possible.  And you agonize and blame the journey for being so difficult, slow, uneventful, unfortunate, all while voluntarily carrying this load.

Well, LET IT GO.

Let it go, and take a stretch.  Things might hurt a little, feel a little funky, but what do you expect—you’ve been carrying this tremendous burden, hunchbacked and gnarl-knuckled, for all this time!   Feeling strange – it’s good, particularly if the familiar was not good.  Stretch your arms wide and high towards the sky.   Lift up your chin to the light.  Take a slow, deep, delicious breath.

That is you,
coming back to life,
disbelieving facts,
having faith.

Welcome home.

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