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?
- Allowing oneself to get sucked into the dictators’ insanity.
- Being nice because you’re afraid to set limits and say ‘no’ and then continuing to feel anger.
- Becoming passive/aggressive
- Continuing to bang your head against a stone wall that won’t budge.
What are the functional ways?
- 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.
- Visualizing a shield of white light surrounding you that deflects the negative energy back to the perpetrator.
- 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.
- Setting boundaries or limits on bad behavior and sticking to them.
- 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.