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I don’t know how to really process this unbelievable experience I had with neighbors.
They insisted they knew exactly what I was posting and why. I posted on a forum about it being kind to return mail to your neighbors if delivered to you accidentally. It’s the kind thing to do.
I left no mention of anyone or any situation, no specifics, just a blanket statement. I’d been having issues with my mail for a few months (maybe more, I haven’t counted) and one neighbor took it to be personal. Certain that it was a personal attack.
So, I awoke one morning to wow, a lot of long pages of texting. Many long pages of texts. So long that you have to click on the arrow to show the whole page. I had no idea she was on the forum. Hello! Good morning! I woke up to drama first thing.
When we take things personally and don’t bother to ask questions, we judge. We judge and we gather allies.
Soon another woman came on and said maybe Lisa will apologize.
Not only am I being accused of targeting someone—now I might want to apologize. Dang! So let me get this straight. I didn’t target someone, but somehow I’m responsible for their upset and need to apologize?
I get it. People love to judge. We get caught up in our ego and we want to prove that our story of this person’s post is the “truth.” She proceeded to tell me, “We both know this post was about me” via private text. Okay, so now they are mind readers, psychics. I’m not being sarcastic, just honest. How can anyone know? They can’t. The ego is sure it knows!
Overreaction, collecting allies, and projecting out. The making of hot drama! Reality show quality.
The ego feeds off more “proof” and more drama. It’s hustling to be right! To prove that we know the truth.
This is how people segregate and discriminate and build groups around their stories. It’s actually toxic behavior that can have the makings of group bullying and shunning. It’s designed to create shame. Brené Brown talks about shaming: it’s designed to show power and control. Many will judge the situation without real information. Many will gather to confirm the judgment. Gossip happens. Now it is group shunning. This is a real issue, and while it might seem like a small scale within a neighborhood, this type of behavior is the very thing that starts wars. This is the very thing that causes isolation. It’s serious, very serious.
It breaks down the cohesiveness of community and creates another community around judgment and lack of inclusion. It spreads. It’s designed to spread. On some level, the power feels good and we want more. We like the domination of being right and having others that believe us and we want more to create a society of power.
Now we have entitlement. Others believe us and now we move forward from that sense of superiority. Even if that society is our neighborhood. All because someone made assumptions. Someone couldn’t have emotional regulation and be responsible and honest about their behavior.
And instead of taking ownership over their behavior, they try to justify it. Justification for shaming. Justification for outing people. Justification for judging. Justification for lack of emotional responsibility.
For me, I’ve been taking my fingers and looking at myself for decades. That doesn’t mean I take on others’ blame and apologize. That means I look at the situation. I grow from it. I’ve been doing “The Work” by Byron Katie for 20 years. I know well what the mind does.
If you sit with it and observe without any motive, you can see the trail that leads from the original judgment to the violent thoughts. Even covert violence. Even simmering unspoken violence. This lack of emotional responsibility has hurt people. We allow our emotions to take charge. We don’t question them.
As Byron Katie says, “Judge your neighbor. Write it down, ask four questions, and turn it around.”
If we are to move forward in society and stop discrimination of all kinds, we have to start in our own neighborhoods. We can’t expect change on a large scale if we are still doing it in our own neighborhoods.
Our emotional regulation is on us, not others to fix, and it is on us to stop systemic blame and shame.