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2017: A Year In Review

Whereas 2016 was most certainly a year of change, 2017 has been harder to pinpoint exactly what it has come to represent. We’ve seen a movement throughout the year, which began with fear, move to strength and resilience, and has seemingly ended up acceptance.

Nothing to fear but fear itself…

The year began with a reaction out of fear. Consider this; we have three possible reactions to the things that we fear that are hard-wired into us. These three reactions are ‘fight, flight or freeze’. In 2016, we saw a massive amount of change and this change was often brought about through a manipulative use of fear. We saw the UK decide that it would leave Brexit. We saw the US push back against ‘the establishment’ and elect an unlikely President. We were still reeling from the after-shocks that come from the terrorist actions of the previous years and showed no signs of slowing down as we moved into 2017. All of these were often a reaction to our own internalized fear that people were out to get us and that we had to ‘protect our tribe’, often blown out of proportion by the media and certainly used by politicians to gain votes. I mean, do we really need to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out of the United States? When you stand back and look at this proposition, doesn’t it seem a tad OTT?

Only in the past few weeks, we have had another incident in Melbourne where a man drove a car into a group of 60 people as they crossed Flinders St. Within hours of the incident, the news coverage seemed all too keen to determine if this was a terrorist act or not. News spread first that the man was of ‘middle eastern background’. You could see the news media itching to claim it was terrorist, asking the police officer repeatedly during the first press conference if it was terror-related and seemingly not listening to his response because, frankly, it wasn’t sensational enough. Or it didn’t fit what their expectations were. It would soon be discovered that it didn’t appear to be terror-related; simply a man who suffered mental illness, drug abuse and didn’t like the way the Muslim community was being treated. “Is that enough to call it a terrorist action?”, one of the news channels actually stated on air. We live in a world where fear is used both to sell and to manipulate. When change comes because people are scared and, as Big Brother would say, ‘voting to save’, you can understand why emotions can run high when your beliefs are under attack.

Same Sex Postal Vote ‘Debate’

In Australia, one of the bigger debates to engulf the nation was around if same-sex couples should be allowed marriage equality. While the same sex camp simply focused on the fact that ‘love is love’, the far left went into their usual tactics of fearmongering and scare tactics to warn about the impending doom to civilization should same-sex couples be granted marriage equality. The debate turned ugly. Really ugly. I was surprised to discover how many of my fellow LGBTQIA community members were impacted by the heat and intensity of the ‘debate’. I had one friend say to me that they felt like they were ‘coming out again’, realizing that not everyone was supportive of him and that it was making him feel uneasy, anxious and often depressed.

I, too, found myself surprised at my reaction to the debate. I tend to pride myself on being psychologically flexible however I was not prepared when I discovered there were people who would rather see me considered not equal to my own circle of friends. In those moments, you tend to wonder if the same sex postal vote was a blessing or a curse; ignorance is bliss however at least now we know where we stood with certain people. What surprised me was the realisation that, while I am open and accepting of people having a different belief to mine, when it hits so hard as to reflect a large part of who you are and you realise that it would hard to be completely authentic and genuine with them if you were sitting one on one, it felt like it was time to draw the line and let that relationship go. It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for the good times that were there, nor does it mean that I don’t wish them anything but the absolute best. People are entitled to their beliefs. However, we are entitled to decide who we should surround ourselves with in the hope that there is some shared common ground.

This realization was an incongruence for me. I’ve always believed that you find the things in common and share the love as opposed to focusing on the things that are different. Perhaps this was my own insight into what the more conservative mindset perceives? Perhaps there was my own fear coming up in that confrontation and I struggled in those moments to find the empathy and compassion needed to bring the situation back in line with my values. Time will tell.

The rise of #metoo

What the same sex postal vote did highlight was the strength and resilience of the community and how prepared we were to be vocal for our rights. Then we began to see other examples of this strength and resilience coming forward. In the US, it began when allegations were made of sexual assault against film producer Harvey Weinstein. All it took was that strength and courage of the first abuse survivor to step forward before the floodgates opened. Then came the #metoo hashtag. Now, I don’t know about you but I was horrified and confronted to see how many people I know, love and respect were sharing their own #metoo stories. Too many people having been objectified and devalued. Too many people who were made to feel violated. The world was changing and people were standing up and saying ‘no more’. The witch hunt had begun but this time, the witches were real and they deserved to be called out for their behaviour.

We find ourselves at the end of this year. Australia came back with a resounding ‘YES’ in favour of marriage equality and the law has already been passed. Within the Australian hypnotherapy community, there are two individuals who I need to comment on here; Cas Willow and Heather Richards. Both of these incredible ladies have given so much to the Australian hypnotherapy community. They’ve been trainers, authors, workshop facilitators, supervisors and professional therapists. You could not begin to calculate the number of people who have benefited from the work of these two women – either directly or indirectly. These are the types of people who use their skills and talents to help people let go of an issue that makes their lives hard and make their worlds so much better. Sadly, Cas has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. While we don’t know how much longer Cas has to be with us, the level of joy we felt to see laws passed in time for Cas and Heather to be able to marry is one of the highlights of my year. For any argument against marriage equality, I present to you Cas and Heather. I look at them and I see beauty, resilience, and strength and I thank them for it. It isn’t what they intend but it what they’ve become.

Resilience… Courage… Strength… and Acceptance

We find ourselves in a world that is currently taking a stand, having the strength and courage now to take on those who have put us down. It isn’t a sense of victory because the fight to get here has been so ugly… but it is a sense of validation to know that our beliefs are not wrong and that we are worthy of equality. We end the year looking at countless LGBT people who can start to plan their weddings and celebrate their love. We end the year looking at an empowered world that tells sexual predators that their actions are not acceptable. We find ourselves in a place of acceptance and strength… and most importantly, ready to heal.

Ripping off the band-aid

I sense that there are a few more band-aids that need to be ripped off first and some have been on so long that there is a fear of doing it quickly. However, I also get a sense that when things have been exposed bare, we will finally be in a place where healing can begin. My hope is that 2018 proves to be the year of healing because I can see so many people around me who need a bit of that lately. To everyone who has felt the challenge that this year has thrown at us, who have often felt invalidated or objectified or devalued, my wish is that those wounds begin to heal in 2018 and that you can discover just how perfect you are right now.

If you’re keen to start off your new year feeling more empowered, more resilient and more in control, why not consider coming into Release Hypnosis to say hello. You can also fill in the form below to sign up for our regular newsletter that features articles, videos and free hypnosis giveaways.

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