At 7am today I heard the news: the UK had voted to leave the European Union.
I felt sick. I felt shaky. I couldn’t quite believe it (although, sadly, part of me could believe it all too readily).
These last few hours I’ve felt all sorts. A lot of anger – at the lies which had been told during the campaign and anger at people for believing them. I’ve called that 52% of the British public who voted leave stupid, narrow-minded and bigoted. I’ve asked my husband where shall we emigrate to, because I don’t want to live in this narrow-minded country anymore.
It’s been quite an emotional morning! I’ve felt sick, angry, ashamed and very judgmental.
But you know what? I don’t want to feel this way.
It’s always in our power to decide which thoughts to follow.
So I decided I wanted to try and understand what’s going on.
Now I know I can’t hope to know what was going through the mind of every single person who voted leave. But I strongly suspect the a large number of leave voters voted that way because of the message from the campaigning: appeals to stopping immigration, getting our country back, becoming “Great” Britain again and a sovereign nation appealed to them, that we can spend tax payers’ money how we want to without the interference of the EU.
Why do these messages of isolationism and fear and loathing of the “other” and division into “us” and “them” hold such sway?
How does this fear take hold? Where does this apparent lack of compassion comes from?
And the only reason I can think of is that it stems from a lack of compassion towards and lack of love of the self.
When we don’t love ourselves and show kindness towards ourselves we’re living in a state of lack. We don’t feel good enough. We don’t feel comfortable in our skin or that we are worthy.
In this self-love-less state we question our very right to exist. And then we operate constantly from a state of fear.
And when we’re fearful we can lose the capacity to empathise with others. The walls come up and we get angry and want to blame others for what we feel isn’t right or shouldn’t be happening. We lash out.
Now the reasons for this lack of self-worth are many and deep. A Western-religious culture which tells us we are sinners and shameful; an education system which constantly judges us and rates us against a prescribed rate of worth; and a toxic materialistic culture where every supposed (and invented) ill has had a solution manufactured to sell to us to make us happy – selling us the lie that we’re not good enough unless we buy x,y,z.
And add to that governments who shamelessly spread messages of blaming others for the purported shortcomings of our society, well, no wonder so many of us are living in a state of fear.
This is how I can only begin to try and understand today’s EU Referendum result. It’s come from fear.
So, what can we do?
This world needs less fear. It needs more love, compassion and understanding.
If we truly love and accept ourselves it’s impossible to feel anything other than compassion for other living beings. We understand we are all living in a delicate web of interconnectedness. One action reverberates through this web in ways we may never see or understand. We realize “them” and “us” are false distinctions.
So, I have decided: I am not going to fester in these feelings of anger and shame and sickness that I am feeling today.
Today, I will sit with these thoughts and emotions and feel them arise. I notice the physical sensations (nausea, tension); I watch the emotions (anger, sadness); I notice the thoughts (disbelief, helplessness).
And I also feel behind them is something deeper and more compassionate: a desire to understand; a yearning to make a difference; a wish to help people love and accept themselves.
I choose to let the destructive thoughts, feelings and emotions go – and to keep letting them go as they arise and flow in waves of shock through my body/mind.
I will continue to breathe and release. I will move my body and let go. I will sit with the stillness and compassion in my heart.
I will try to understand, not blame.
I feel the impetus for compassionate action rising up inside me. To spread the message of self-love and self-compassion. To encourage the choice of loving-kindness over fear.
Today I feel raw. And I honour and respect that.
Tomorrow I will rise up stronger, more determined than ever to stand by the side of those ready to walk the path of loving-kindness in this world. To enable them release anxiety and stress and fear. To guide them to accept and love themselves.
Each one of us who walks the path of empathy and compassion and connection and understanding reignites loving-kindness in those whom we come across on our path through life.
Fear will NOT win.
Let love win. Do everything in your power to love and spread loving-kindness and compassion. Know you are not alone in wishing this for the world.
Love WILL win.