Tim Loughnan, Ocean Shores
As a psychologist I’m intrigued by the cultural framing of our emotional experiences. Unfortunately in our patriarchal western culture we collapse the feeling of panic with the behaviour of panicking – as if they are the same thing.
These are actually separate events. One of the central catch-cries of the patriarchy is ‘Don’t Panic!’ The subtext is that some all-knowing unflappable male figure will come and rescue us from whatever is happening (like Scott Morrison?). The underlying message, particularly to men, is that it’s unmanly to feel panic. Anything to do with panic is taboo. Most men are conditioned to squash any such feelings from their own private awareness, let alone allow them to be expressed to anyone else.
This inaccurate glitch in our framing of panic and anxiety is a massive problem for creating the kind of transformational change we must have. Although it is very important that we don’t panic behaviourally, it is equally, if not more, important that we allow valid feelings of panic to land within and between us.
If you’re informed of the catastrophe (I use that word mindfully) coming at us without radical and decisive change, then feelings of panic are a sign that you have accurately assessed our collective situation. These powerful gut feelings are the ingredients we need to form into a tenacious and unstoppable collective resolve to transform on every level. You can’t get to that level of power if you skip over your own emotional knowing.
Embodied knowing, formed up from a gut and heart level, is exponentially more powerful than the head alone. This is an alchemical process which involves allowing not only feelings of panic/anxiety but also sadness, anger and appropriate guilt at our contribution (without letting patriarchal structures off the hook). Our earth identity is being born. Like any birth it’s a very intense process.
What can we do? Let ourselves feel. Create safety for vulnerable conversations. The emotional meta-silence is finally breaking as shown in the Climate Strikes and Extinction Rebellion.
Now we must completely break through this silence. Creating safety to feel, and sharing our feelings, is the portal to transformation.