By Anne Wilson Schaef
As I write this, I am in Europe embarrassingly watching the “reality show” of unreality that is the election of a new President for the United States of America. I have always found it good to be out of the country during election time. And, this time, more than any other, I feel embarrassed to be an American.
My roots go very deep in this land of my ancestors and I keep hoping for more spiritually-based maturity than I am seeing. Coming from a line of women healers, I naturally ask the question “How can I help?” and I want to help this nation heal and become what it can be.[ad name=”AdSense Responsive”]
I have been trying for years to understand the Republican party – to little or no avail. I have been completely confounded as to why any woman or person of color would have anything to do with it and I am sure that even old “Honest Abe” would cringe at what it has become. (Our family always liked “Old Abe.”)
When I see women, black people, or Hispanics stand up and speak pro Republican, I feel a bit sick at my stomach and fuzzy in my head. The only psychological theory I can come up with to explain this behavior is the Stockholm Syndrome “identifying with the oppressor.”
As I have watched from afar and sought to imagine how true communication and understanding can evolve out of the mess that is politics, a couple of ideas that have been meaningful to me have floated to the surface.
I have spent many of my earlier years working in mental hospitals and now, more than ever, I feel like I am living in one. I remember when I was doing my psychological internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, there were times at grand rounds (about 350 professionals – you could always tell who “we” were because we carried a big ward key in plain sight) when I felt the patient who was being interviewed was saner than those doing the interviewing!
I remember at some point how much my work with people in hospitals changed when I shifted from a “disease” model (where I was a warrior fighting the patient and the disease) to a model that said something like – “The natural state for the human organism is to heal, learn, and grow. Everyone wants these three things. When these three processes are interfered with DIS-EASE ensues.” From that perspective I was not fighting the disease in the person, I was a colleague joining forces to assist that person do what they really wanted to do anyway which was to heal, learn and grow. It was amazing how quickly the people on the “back wards” changed with just a shift in MY attitude. From that point on, I began to see that psychosis is a choice our inner beings make when we feel we have no other.
– I now believe in and have strong evidence to support that we all want to heal, grow and learn and disease emerges when that process is stopped for whatever reason.
Why has America come to the point where it feels that “it can do no other” and is looking very psychotic?
– Secondly, I am aware of another concept that I have developed that applies here. I call it levels of truth.
As we heal, learn, and grow and “deepen,” we, as beings, go through different levels of truth. These levels of truth look something like a sine curve. Each level looks like an exact opposite of the one before and after it and every other level is similar.
– I have experienced and believe that the natural state for the human organism is that each person has a spiritual base or some kind of base greater than her/his self. And the agenda of that base is to heal, grow and learn.
– We heal when we learn from our experiences. No matter what we have experienced, or how bad they were, we only lose when we do not learn from them.
– When we learn from them, we grow from them.
– Our major defeats occur only when we do not heal, learn, and grow.
As we heal, learn and grow from experiences (even those of our ancestors!) we go through different levels of truth. Our awareness of levels of truth can help us learn to communicate more effectively. These levels of truth, as I have said, are such that each level of truth looks like the opposite of the one before and after it. And so it goes.
I like to use racism as an example.
1. The first level of truth on the racism spectrum is being racist and being bigoted and not even recognizing it. This person would use such words as nigger and operate out of fear and hatred using these emotions to feel “superior.”
2. The next level of truth is being aware of the hurtfulness of these terms and attitudes and being “politically correct” not to use them. Probably no attitude change has occurred here and there is some movement.
3. The next level of truth is having ferreted out some awareness that being accepted as “white” means by definition, we are racist, have white privilege, and, of course, we are racist and need to do a lot of soul searching and “cleaning out” to learn and grow. Often, at this stage we feel overwhelmed. And, we are becoming more truthful and humble. We may even be able to joke with our black brothers and sisters about these issues because they experience our growing and changing.
4. At level four, we may be even more careful in what we say and do because we have developed some humility about how far we have to go. And so it goes.
– Every issue in our lives has “levels of truth.”
– People on the earlier levels of truth have less information than those in the later stages and certainly less humility and forgiveness.
– As we heal, grow and learn, we have been through some painful learning about ourselves and hopefully, have developed some acceptance, humility and vision. We can be aware of and grateful for our learning and growing.
– It is very easy to get dragged back into lower levels when we do not stop to remember what we have slowly and painfully learned and that we had to go through several levels of truth to become who we can become as human beings. We are developing compassion for the journeys all have to take to become fully human and transcend the earlier, less enlightened and aware stages of growth.
– Every important issue we have for learning as humans has a level of truth spectrum.
Communication breaks down when those who have or have not healed, grown and learned are trying to force their levels of truth on others.
Those who are not on their path to heal, learn and grow can cause a lot of trouble and frustration for themselves, others and a society. Those who have chosen to heal, learn and grow need to be grateful and develop compassion. It is quite simple. The issue is to keep healing, learning and growing.
Some people have never stepped on the levels of truth path or are stuck on the early stages. These people usually believe that they KNOW that their level is THE truth because it is all they know. Those who have moved through several levels have a better understanding that they are growing and learning and that there always will be more and different levels of truth.
To stay stuck in the earlier levels on any issue usually results in some mental health problem.
About the Author
Anne Wilson Schaef is a New York Times bestseller with several million books in print. Her writings have always focused on healing, recovery, transformation and spirituality for individuals, organizations, societies and the planet. She is just returning from a 20-year personal retreat in which she explored her native roots. For more than 40 years, she has worked with an international community called the Living in Process network where individuals and groups focus on recovery from addiction, deep process work and a cultural paradigm shift. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology and an honorary doctorate in Human Letters. Her latest book titled, “There Will Be a Thousand Years of Peace and Prosperity, and They Will Be Ushered in by the Women – Version 1 & Version 2,” is available online at , and .