MeiMei Fox who describes herself as a depth psychotherapy-trained life coach, author and speaker, was alarmed recently not by a short video on the Invisible Children, (the ones who are being kidnapped for soldiers and sex slaves in Africa) but by people’s comments and reactions to the article. The video “went viral having garnered a spectacular 56 million views in just 4 days” plus thousands of dollars in donations. However, not everyone was supportive, warning it was a scam or these Africans deserved what they get. In her article in the Huffington Post (“HuffPost Healthy Living Canada”) Ms. Fox has some remedies for the haters in this world.
So here is my thought: “Hateration” (as Mary J. Blige so brilliantly labeled it in her hit song “Family Affair”), is an ego-driven response to shame: our feelings that we haven’t lived up to our own standards, and that therefore we aren’t good enough. As a result, other people’s success, efforts, and good deeds make us feel smaller. When we have that gut-level, animalistic reaction of wanting to hate on something, it means we’ve triggered an area of self-loathing within ourselves. But most of the time, we’re way too afraid to go there and admit what it is that we’ve done to disappoint ourselves. It’s easier to blame others for our bad feelings and make it about their failures rather than our own.
Coincidentally, I watched Brene Brown’s TED talk from February, which addresses the topic of shame. Brown calls shame “the swampland of the soul.”
The antidote to shame, according to Brown? Douse it with empathy and vulnerability (also the subject of her viral TEDxHouston talk). “Vulnerability is not weakness,” says Brown. “It is our most accurate measurement of courage… It is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” We need to be able to sit with each other in our fear and really listen. Vulnerability is key to living in a whole-hearted, joyful way.
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She goes on to give an example from her own life about her marriage breakup and how she was at first very angry at her ex-husband – it was all his fault. Then she started to “practice vulnerability” and asked her friends and relatives to support her through a difficult time. Suddenly hate turned to positive thinking and the positive action of moving on. There are indeed spiritual healing techniques for haters. I’m not sure exactly how vulnerability is going to help the Invisible Children, but I know everyone wants their disappearance to stop.