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How Do You Resist Insanity?

A good 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?

First, 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.

Second, I learned to appreciate the chaos of those raging waters. They carried me to psychic depths I never would otherwise have experienced. The spiritual benefits were depth of understanding and enhanced clarity.

Third, the raging waters taught me compassion. As I struggled through the physical challenges, I suffered through a soul struggle within myself: anger, fear, frustration, ethical choices. I could then feel and understand the soul struggle in others who were also struggling.

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 it.

What are the non-functional ways?

  1. Allowing oneself to get sucked into the dictators’ insanity.
  2. Screaming
  3. Name-calling
  4. Hitting
  5. Killing
  6. Being nice because you’re afraid to set limits and 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.

What are the functional ways?

  1. Standing firm in your 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.
  2. 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 him. 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.
  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 conduct.

If one doesn’t have enough spiritual centeredness 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.

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.

External focus vs internal focus

Every time we start talking about what is “out there” or what is “real” or what is “true” or what is “right” we get into disagreements. As soon as I, for one, shift my focus to what I think, what I feel, what I need, and what my choices are, I don’t need to argue with anyone over concepts or abstractions. They can believe whatever they want. I know their beliefs emanate from the way they see their world. I’m not going to change them, but their beliefs don’t need to be mine. Mine don’t need to be theirs.

Now, of course, some people can become pretty obnoxious when you disagree with their beliefs. Then you can simply choose whether to continue a dialog or detach and walk away.

On suffering, I wouldn’t even begin to try to answer the question, “Is suffering real?” There are some questions that have no answers. All they do is get you into arguments or send your mind spinning around in circles. That question is one of those questions.

Now, if we’re talking about what you or I feel or experience, yes certainly we could both probably say there have been times when it felt as if we were suffering. For me, when I struggled with asthma as a child, when my husband was unfaithful, when I broke my nose on the side of a swimming pool, when my daughter-in-law refused to allow me to see “her children”, whenever another person in anger has called me names or pointed a self-righteous finger of blame in my direction.

Yet “suffering” is just a word we use to describe a whole series of complex sensations within our bodies which feel different from the ones we experience when we are relaxed and content. We didn’t make up what we were experiencing, but we certainly made up the word “suffering.”

The real question, it seems to me, is not whether suffering is real, but what each of us chooses to do with those complex sensations within our bodies that we call “suffering.” They sure don’t feel good and often they drain our energy.

When I lived in Panama, a wonderful middle-aged Panamanian woman cleaned my home. Looking at her external circumstances, it would have been easy to say she was suffering.

She had completed only six years of schooling. Her husband had had no problem getting her pregnant six times. More often than not, he was unemployed, lay around the house all day watching TV, and got drunk. He rarely gave her money toward food and clothing. When she came home, he verbally abused her.

Her family of eight lived in a small home. She did all the cooking, cleaning and laundry. She fed her family rice and beans, because with eight mouths to feed, she couldn’t afford much else. Most of the time, she was the sole financial, emotional and moral support for her children. The standard wage in Panama for a maid is $15 a day. At most she earned $90 a week. She prayed a lot.

She could have judged herself as suffering, moped about, and complained about her unfair treatment. She didn’t.

Instead, she came to my house with a smile on her face, a big hug for me, and began her cleaning with joy, enthusiasm, and pride in her work. This lady wasn’t suffering. She was a queen.

With her own earnings and determination, she was financing nursing school for one of her daughters. She was such a proud mother.

Her next step? She’s going back to school herself, getting her high school degree, then going on to the university to become a teacher. What a wonderful teacher she is!

How Can We Gain Wisdom?

Wisdom comes from experience. The more we experience, the wiser we become. We experience joy and we become wise. We experience pain and we become wise. We experience wealth and we become wise. We experience poverty and we become wise. There is no path upon which we do not become wiser.

Yet, paradoxically, we are already wise when we are born. We know how to cry when we hurt. We know how to breathe when we need air. Our hearts know how to beat to keep the blood circulating throughout our bodies. Our lungs know how to breathe. We know how to sleep when we are tired. We know how to eat when we are hungry. We know how to release waste that no longer serves us.

Unfortunately, as we grow, many of us are taught by fools, by self-righteous parents, priests, teachers, media, business leaders, government heads, and others, that we are stupid, bad, obnoxious, and unworthy. We are taught that the fools are the only ones to be trusted because they are so much smarter, more virtuous, and more praiseworthy than we. Being dependent and naive, we are afraid and believe what the fools tell us. What we believe becomes our reality. We, too, become fools, exhibiting the stupid, bad, and obnoxious traits that have been modeled for us and that we have been taught we are. Then we try to hide our foolishness, stupidity, and low self-esteem behind grandiose displays of arrogance, bullying, and self-righteous judgment of others. We try to refocus attention away from our own deficiencies and onto all the bad, vicious things others are doing. We self-righteously pretend we know and strut around trying to impress everyone with our knowledge.

Sometimes, we become very good at impressing other fools who believe our stories and grandiose displays, and for a little while, we feel secure. Yet we are always insecure because we are out of integrity with the natural beauty of who we are and of everything that surrounds us. Those who buy into our foolishness are also insecure and need to hide behind a veil of pretense and idolatry to preserve a false face of wisdom and importance. It is what some have called ego.

The wise man knows he knows nothing and seeks only to learn and serve. His advantage over the fool is that he knows that the fool knows nothing and is a fool. The wise man observes the fool’s conduct and is skeptical of the fool’s words. He trusts his own gut and makes his own decisions. That is how he recognizes the fool. And often, to fools, the wise man appears to be the fool.

Wisdom comes from releasing any desire to be perceived as wise. We are wise when we know we are neither wise nor unwise. We simply are.

Wisdom is knowing we don’t know. When we know we don’t know, we know no one else knows either. We no longer have to kowtow to fools (self-righteous media, government officials, military dictators, priests, or teachers) or believe they are wise. We are free to stay in integrity with ourselves and follow our own path, while staying open to new learnings and insights. We are free to create and co-create with others in the image of our Maker.

We are all in this together, blind men and women following blind men and women, trusting a Higher Intelligence and Power we don’t even know exists.

Is this insanity? No. This is the highest of all wisdoms.

Asking the Right Questions

Questions are good. The right questions are even better.

One of my struggles in writing “Shift” has been how to communicate my experiences and what I know without sounding authoritarian. This is not about following rules. This is about personal freedom.

Over many years, I’ve learned techniques that work. One of those techniques is questions. Another is telling stories. A third is paradox or unusual juxtapositions of words.

The latter jolts people out of their conditioned linear thinking. Linear thinking simply cannot communicate wholistic understanding, connection, and clarity.

Patterns in Our Words

We all assume our words tell us something about the real world. They don’t. They tell us about the way each of us sees the real world. In other words, our words speak volumes about each of us!

Am I trying to make you self-conscious about what you say? Perhaps not self-conscious, but at least conscious.

Assume someone calls you a rotten pig. Does that mean you really are a rotten pig? Those words say absolutely nothing about you. They say boatloads about the way the speaker views the world.

Do you want to spend your time with a person who sees you as a rotten pig? I sure don’t. I distance myself from people like that as fast as I can. I deserve better than that, and so do you.

How would you like people to see you? As being courageous? Then use courageous words. As kind and compassionate? Then use kind and compassionate words.

Intention and Synchronicity

“Drive safely,” my son Bill said as I left his Naval retirement ceremony in Saint Marys, Georgia. Bill was the third family member who had told me to drive safely.

“I am a safe driver,” I replied with a bit of irritation. Then, noticing my own abruptness and the integrity of Bill’s intention, I added, “But I appreciate your thought. There are a lot of drunk drivers and texting teenagers on the road. Please hold the thought that the people who aren’t safe drivers stay out of my path.”

About 20 minutes outside Saint Marys, an unexpected thought popped into my head. Had I remembered to pack the power cord for my computer, or had I left it plugged in at the hotel?

At first, I was tempted not to stop. Of course, I’d remembered to pack the cord.

Or had I? Better to check than arrive home after a five-hour drive, only to discover I didn’t have it.

I pulled over to the side of the road, popped the trunk, got out and unzipped my computer case. Sure enough, the cord was right where it was supposed to be. Two minutes later, I was back on the road.

For three hours, the drive was uneventful. Then, on I-75 just below Ocala, all traffic in all three lanes abruptly stopped.

A motorist who had gotten out of his car reported that helicopters were dropping down onto the roadway ahead of us. Another said that there had been a three-car collision and lifelines were pulling people from demolished vehicles. One woman said that according to OnStar, someone had died.

Two hours later, traffic began moving again. About two miles down the road I passed what was left of the wreck: one totally trashed vehicle, a pickup truck, a camper, and belongings strewn all over the side of the road.

Two minutes. Two miles. Except for my stop to check for that computer cord, I could well have been in that accident with one of those less-than-careful drivers.

Did my parting conversation with Bill set an intention for a safe drive home? Where did the thought come from about my computer cord and why did I unexpectedly stop for two minutes? Are our thoughts and intentions simply instantaneous energy exchanges that manifest desired results in unexpected ways?

I don’t ever expect to know the answers to those questions, but this strange series of apparently unrelated events certainly produced a strange synchronicity that may have saved my life.

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Dr. Janet Smith Warfield serves wisdom-seekers who want understanding and clarity so they can live peaceful, powerful, prosperous lives. Through her unique combination of holistic, creative, right-brain transformational experiences and 22 years of rigorous, left-brain law practice, she has learned how to sculpt words in atypical ways to shift her listeners into experiences beyond words, transforming turmoil into inner peace. For more information, visit https://wordsculptures.com/; https://drjanetsmithwarfield.com/; https://planetarypeacepowerprosperity.org.

Moment of Truth

Insane with rage,
Betrayed by two trusted friends,
My fantasy grabbed a pistol and shot them dead,
Trashing them from my life and this earth.

Reason returned.

Was it I feeling this anger?
Was it I wanting to murder?

Never again can I judge a murderer!
Never again can I condemn in others
The fury I felt that passionate moment
When I lost my dignity
And found my truth!