Two Reasons WHY Your Friends Share Conspiracy Theories
(And How to Talk to Them About it)
Recently I've seen a few things shared in my social media feeds that have surprised me and that quite frankly I strongly disagree with.
I love and respect many of the people I've seen sharing these things and I am not writing this to “debunk” these claims or start an argument around what’s true and what’s not.
I chose to share this because I think there’s an important lesson here on how we can build connections with each other, even when we disagree, if we change the conversations we're having.
You see I’ve learned that if someone acts in a way I don't agree with it doesn't mean I don't love them or they don’t love me. I’ve learned that the way to build connection with those who we disagree with is not to argue with them, rather it’s to choose to go deeper and listen in a way that attempts to understand their actions and seeks to hear what’s being said that may not be spoken.
In this way it’s possible to get to the root of our disagreement, which is always something very old we’re hanging on to, that generally has little to do with the present reality we’re arguing about.
I think it's important, particularly now, for all of us all to pause, to take a step back and look at why we're sharing the information we're choosing to share. What's going on inside ourselves that's motivating us to share? And sorry, I don't think a simple answer like, "I'm trying to stop the government from taking away our freedoms", or “I’m trying to stop the hoaxers from hurting people” is good enough.
We need to dig deeper than that and be rigorously honest with ourselves about why we're sharing. What feelings do we associate with what we're sharing? Are they constricting feelings, like anger, resentment and fear? Or are they expanding feelings like love, compassion and gratitude? Are we sharing because our ego wants to be heard, or because we genuinely believe what we have to say will help others? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions.
A lot of the information shared recently has been associated with fear and anger. In order for us to understand each other better I think it's important to identify where this fear and anger is coming from. We're living in one of the greatest times of uncertainty of our generation and faced with an uncontrollable threat to our individual survival instinct.
In the face of such uncertainty and a threat to our survival instinct, it's normal to be scared. This is partly where our fear is coming from, yet I hear many people pushing this fear away, questioning it, not wanting to feel it.
1) The perceived threat to our survival presented by COVID-19 triggers fears that seem much larger and are much older than the immediate apparent threat to our survival. This is because we tend to interpret our present experience through the emotional lens of our past. When we're not consciously aware of our emotional past and how it influences our life today it wreaks havoc on our ability to pause and respond to circumstances and events in our lives that appear to threaten us and trigger our basic human instincts. We quickly become overwhelmed and our survival instinct kicks in.
2) When we're not consciously aware of our past triggers we're more susceptible to let our human instinct run wild in what in reality is a flawed attempt at protecting ourselves. Our survival instinct is designed to protect us from an immediate threat we can react to. Something we can run away from, fight and if neither of those options work, to freeze. In the case of COVID-19 we can't run away, the virus is literally everywhere, it's in the very air we breathe. Since we can't run away our instinct is left with two options, fight or freeze. Without conscious oversight grounded in an understanding that most of what we feel is not related to our present reality, instinct tells us to find ways to numb ourselves like disbelieving the virus is real and using alcohol or drugs. Or we get angry and find something that we think we can fight to make COVID-19 go away. The government presents a very large and very visible target for our anger.
By choosing to look inwards and investigate when we're triggered we afford ourselves the possibility to change the conversation from one of conflict, towards connection.
In my experience, if we make a daily practice out of this simple step we will eventually find less and less conflict and more and more peace and serenity in our lives. Things that used to baffle us will seem more manageable. We will find ourselves intuitively knowing the next right step to take and have the ability to respond with love and compassion towards ourselves and others no matter what challenge is placed in our path.
I’m currently taking on a few more 1 to 1 clients. If the above resonates with you and /or you’d like to take a closer look at how COVID-19 is impacting your life and business and how you can choose to respond to it I’m offering a no-obligation, complimentary 45 minute Zoom consultation.