The hot coal you throw/At whom you judge/First burns you

Are You Backfiring?

A while back I wrote about the Backfire Effect. The effect, in short, is that when we receive information that doesn’t support what we want to believe, we tend to double down on the false belief.

Recently about 70 million people in the U.S. voted for Donald Trump and many suffer from the Backfire Effect. It’s not often that we get to see it operate on such a large scale. We’ve seen baseless claims of voter fraud, contradictory messages like “Count every vote” and “Stop counting the votes,” and attempts by many Republicans to alter reality by ignoring the loss for as long as they can.

But this article isn’t about that confusion, it’s about how we judge it.

It’s very easy for us to use the confusion of others to distract us from looking at our own. This is why one of the most powerful things we can do when we catch ourselves judging is to ask, “How is that me?”

Then really look. Did you behave like that in the past? Are you doing that anywhere now? Usually, we judge what we don’t accept in ourselves. Hold yourself to a high standard.

This does a few different things. When you find a version of what you judge inside yourself, it naturally leads you to connect with whom or what you judge. That connection naturally uncovers compassion. When we communicate with people from that place, they tend to hear it better.

On the left, the Trump-bashing was tragically ironic. Many Democrats became a lot of what they didn’t like about Trump, and then justified it in the name of “fighting for democracy.” But it’s easy to see it didn’t work, because Trump won more of the popular vote than in the 2016 election he won. Aggression increased divisiveness. It was far more about blowing off steam than patriotism, wasn’t it?

Now, were you one of those people?

Is it your experience that “fighting for what you believe” actually changes people’s hearts and minds? Or does it actually make people less likely to listen?

Sure, you could argue that Trump divided the country. That’s easy. The challenge is to ask, “How is that me?” How were you dividing the country in how you expressed your thoughts and feelings about it? How did you divide yourself from millions of people as if you had nothing in common with them?

What’s good about being disconnected from others like that?

All of us suffer from delusion of one kind or another, most of the time. That’s part of being human. When we demonize people for their delusions, we judge humanity itself, and so we judge ourselves.

If you were caught in a confused delusion (and I could show you in minutes that you are), how would you want to be treated? You’d want to be woken up, right? But you’d need it done with respect, love even, to be able to receive it. Name-calling, anger, shunning, etc. would just make you defend yourself right?

I’ve certainly done both sides of that. Haven’t you?

There’s so much we can learn from the last four years, it would be a missed opportunity to ignore it, and the ability for the country to come together may depend on it.

It doesn’t look to me that Trump divided the country. He just stoked the existing fires of our own divisiveness so we could see it better, and for that, I thank him.

In Clear and Open-land, we’re finishing up the Money: From Burden to Freedom course in the next few weeks. It’s available online if you want to use the New Year to improve your relationship to money.

Beginning January 7, 2021, I’ll offer the next 11-week live course, “Claiming Self-Authority” which is about right-relationship to power. Authentic power may challenge, but it doesn’t divide, it coheres. More to come….

As always, Clear and Open membership gets you access to everything I do. Whatever you use to support your evolution, please keep doing your best to be part of the solution.

Lastly, interested to find out something you’re missing? Dare to be brave. Let’s chat about it.

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