Tag Archives: * Challenging the status quo * Change * Claiming authorship * Contesting assumptions * Critical inquiry * Critical thinking * Emerging understanding * Finding your voice * Gaslighting * Gloria Steinem

Trying to understand …


peace1A friend of mine tagged me in her Facebook post today, a comment about a protest she had passed by in the city that relates to the current turmoil in the Middle East. It’s such a drawn out state of affairs, one that I’m only just beginning to consciously notice. My friend’s comment prompted me to fossick through Google to uncover information that might help me gain more insight into something that is for me a minimally understood happening.

My perspectives on the world, and my connection to all that goes on within it are only beginning to open, and I struggle with my ignorance. Related to the current conflict in the Middle-East and other regions that are such a common feature of today’s global climate, I find myself at various times devastated, angry, irritated, frustrated, judging, impatient, scared of what the future might hold … the list of my useless responses goes on as I attempt to fathom the seemingly interminable turmoil and absolute disregard for human rights and dignity that is present on a daily basis.

I am not a lover of conflict, most happy to find a way around discord … sometimes to great effect through a flexible approach that endeavors to honor the unique perspectives of all parties, but too often with an aim of keeping the peace. Keeping the peace in a way that sometimes fails to contest and unpack reigning assumptions, or renegotiate and promote new ways of seeing and feeling, thinking and acting.

There continues to be such injustice in the world related to people with power trying to take from others/oppress those with minimal power or influence, and it is too easy to be lulled into complacency and a closed heart and mind by the numbing voices that saturate our mainstream media, in a society that too easily perpetuates the status-quo.

The work I draw on in my education focused PhD inquiry speaks about the disorienting dilemmas we can face in our passage through learning about life, and our responses to newly perceived and understood phenomena. As I turn my attention to these conflicts across our globe I am being challenged to sit with something that is horrifying and inconceivable to my limited perspective and life-experience, and in spite of my naivety and discomfort with such confronting realities, to open to new ways of seeing what has existed all along.

Malcolm X is reputed to have said ‘If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing’, and while sometimes I find it hard to differentiate the oppressed from the oppressors, I am reminded today … through listening with my eyes and ears and heart … that hearts closed by fear and anger will not bring about sustainable change. True understanding and resolution can only be achieved through open hearts and the provision of safe spaces where compassionate insight, mutual respect and understanding can be seeded and cultivated.

So as I open my own heart to new perspectives and the possibilities for my role in this change, I’ll quote another Facebook gem from today (Facebook is the font of all wisdom you know) …

Building walls in fear of loss does nothing to protect you from future harm, it only robs you of present joy. Tear the walls down

Cynthia Occelli



A friend has sent this link to Yashar Ali’s article ‘A message to women from a man:  you are not crazy. ‘ … gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals … to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yashar-hedayat/a-message-to-women-from-a_1_b_958859.html

At first I thought “Yes, yes, yes, I know … it happens all the time …” and then as I continued to read, I began to realise how his words not only resonated with my own experience, but how deeply they effected my emotional state. I found myself back in so many situations in the past where my thoughts, suggestions and objections were trivialised and ridiculed by another. My face was burning with the same sense of shame and unrecognised injustice I felt in the face of such indignity.

I’m afraid I’ve probably been guilty of being a ‘gaslighter’ myself at various times, and over the last months and years I have been slowly implementing new strategies into my life to address this. My aim is to raise my consciousness … to develop a higher awareness of myself, and of how my words, actions and behaviours impact on others. And in dealing with the words, actions and behaviours of others, I am working to cultivate a conscious space where I can have a bit of leeway before I either melt into a trembling mess, or charge in with vitriolic comments in defence.

In the article, Yashar quotes Gloria Steinem, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” (interestingly, incorporated in my recent thesis) and I am drawn strongly to this notion. We need to become aware of what we have learned about ourselves … to recognize the truths that resonate for us … and to identify the author of these truths. Often the comments that come from others (whether conscious or not) are veiled attempts to oppress us – to control us in some way. My experience is that through taking time to reflect on the story of our lives – on the people and the circumstances that have influenced the construction of our identity – we are able to unlearn some of our conditioned responses to such situations, and to respond in a way that empowers all to grow in authentic strength and truth.

Take some time to read the article if it speaks to you, and see what response you have to Yashar’s thoughts

Life …


The adventure of life is to learn
The purpose of life is to grow
The nature of life is to change
The challenge of life is to overcome
The essence of life is to care
The opportunity of life is to serve
The secret of life is to dare
The spice of life is to befriend
The beauty of life is to give


… live generously … Jenni