Healthy arguing

What the way we discuss controversial topics tells us about ourselves and our immune system

Have you noticed how otherwise rational people can get so absorbed in emotional arguments that they even lose it when it comes to the very values they claim to defend, namely tolerance, respect, compassion and love? Whether it’s about eating meat, breastfeeding, vaccination or Brexit – you’ve probably experienced hands on yourself how pointless and energy-draining the discussions around those topics can be. I definitely have.

While I do have my opinions on all of those topics, this article is not about taking sides. It’s about my observations on the way we discuss those topics and what that actually says about us. I’d also like to draw a link between the way someone communicates and their immune system.

To start with, I would assume that if you want to convince others of your position, you would give rational arguments to support your point of view and welcome any questions or doubts as a chance to further educate the other side with respect. However, most of the times this is not what happens. Rather, I come across such odd situations:

  • Where people accuse, judge, aggress, attack, bully and even threaten to kill (!) each other over the question whether or not animals should be killed.
  • Where the same people preaching unconditional love and compassion, peace and tolerance towards foreign cultures, vote to close their borders to protect themselves from the “enemy” (who ever that turns out to be in the moment).
  • Where the same people defending freedom of speech and opinion, shame and call names those that dare to question conventional medical practices.
  • Where those that don’t trust their doctor on cholesterol, put him on the “expert” throne when it comes to vaccination (but only if he is “pro”, otherwise he must be a quack).
  • Where those that tell you to tune into and trust your body and intuition, tell you to shut up if you haven’t got a doctors title (or that it cannot be that your body feels better with meat).
  • Where those that are against political oppression and totalitarianism, tell you it’s either their way or the Highway.
  • Where those that condemn religious fanaticism get fanatic about their own beliefs.
  • Where the same people defending human rights ask for injections containing questionable ingredients to be made mandatory.
  • Where those telling you to not judge your own thoughts during meditation, go around heavily judging the thoughts and behaviors of other people.
  • Where those that blame others for their fear-based behavior and lack of trust, are themselves driven by extreme fear and a lack of trust in the Universe.
  • Where those talking about yin and yang and the law of polarity talk about “them” vs. “us”.  
  • Where those lamenting the horrible conditions of factory farming or consequences of environmental catastrophes do their Saturday shopping at Carrefour or Zara (or any other major chain store).

When is the last time you changed your mind because someone told you or indirectly implied how dump, idiotic, egoistic or arrogant you are? Every parent knows that this only evokes the rebel in their kid and that the kid will certainly NOT do what they want him to do. Blaming, calling names, accusing, shaming and attacking is not only a completely ineffective behavior that usually creates the opposite effect of what we want, but it also says much more about the attacker than it does about the person being attacked, namely a lack of respect, tolerance, maturity, compassion and love. It also shows how little we actually love and respect ourselves because otherwise we would not choose to hurt ourselves with all that hate and negative energy.

Change starts within us.

Rather than assuming people are dumb because they don’t share your point of view, consider if they may not have a point that you yourself overlooked. Rather than walking around accusing others or complaining about what a bad place this world has become, take a long hard look at yourself first:

  • Where are YOU acting out the same kind of behavior you so passionately reject in others (hint, the more you reject something, the closer you should look according to the law of resonance).
  • Where are YOU being contradictory, incongruent or inconsistent?
  • Where are YOU not practicing what you preach?

I am not saying that being contradictory is a bad thing – in fact, as human beings it’s our very nature, since we live in a dual world. However, most choose to not own those “dark” parts in themselves and as a consequence lack humility and compassion.

If you were truly aware of your own polarity, acknowledging that you are everything and everything lives in you: the “good” and the “bad”, you wouldn’t be able to walk around blaming others.

Even if they were truly being stupid or believing in something that you already know to be an illusion, you wouldn’t judge and even less shame them for that. Rather, you would feel compassion for them and send them love, so that one day they might see what you already see. Also, you would be humble enough to know that YOU probably have areas in your own life where you are not being 100% “right” or consistent, that there are areas where you are still learning.

THIS is what I understand as true tolerance, compassion and unconditional love. It’s what I am committed to practice every day, especially in those moments, where I do feel my anger or rage being triggered and just want to blame and attack those I deem responsible. Yet I try to remind myself that I am the only one responsible for my feelings – nobody forces me to have them and not everybody will have those exact same feelings in the same situation. If a person or situation makes me feel a certain way, it is a sign that something is deeply resonating within ME me and I can use this feeling, situation and/or person as a mirror to explore some hidden part of myself.

As I said, I do have strong opinions on the above mentioned topics and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t try to convince others. However, I have learned that it doesn’t make sense to offer an opinion to someone who didn’t ask for it. I have learned – and am still learning – to choose my battles more wisely. I can still get into heated discussions. However, at some point I always put myself in the other’s shoes and try to understand why they think the way they do. Usually that leads to some kind of understanding for their point of view based on their specific background and experiences. I try to respect that. This is why I usually don’t call someone an idiot or dump for not agreeing with me.

If someone says or does something that upsets me, I try to own my feelings, state clearly why I am upset and ask for what I want to be done differently next time using the so-called assertiveness formula. This formula is about respecting my own truth and boundaries, without crossing the boundaries of others or disrespecting them. It goes like this: “When you… I feel… because…”. So I could say: “When you say xyz, I feel angry, because I get the impression that my opinions and needs are not respected.” Of course this is not a guarantee that next time things will be done differently, yet it does increase the likelihood of such an event. 

I have no problem with people being of different opinions than I am, as long as they grant me the same right. I expect and demand an attitude of respect, open-mindedness, flexibility, tolerance, compassion and love. If people do not show me this attitude, I will sooner or later excrete them and their opinions from my life just like I excrete toxins from my body. I will still try to feel compassion and send them love (because if they cannot respect boundaries, it also means that they cannot set any), but I won’t allow them to walk all over me.

This is what I call my “psychic immune system”. Just like my physical immune system in the gut separates nutrients from toxins and (ideally) only absorbs what is truly supportive and nourishing for my organism (while excreting all the rest), my psychic immune system (ideally) separates all thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors – my own or those thrown at me from other people – into nourishing and toxic and only absorbs the former, while excreting the latter.

Especially if you suffer from leaky gut or auto-immunity, you might have to learn to set boundaries. Learn to not allow each and every intrinsically harmless substance (a comment, an opinion – whether emitted from others or your own mind) to enter and become toxic to your system. Don’t over-react and/or start self-doubting and self-attacking yourself because of it. Especially not if it was toxic in the first place (meaning it lacked respect and love).

If you want a stronger physical immune system, develop a stronger psychical immune system. Because as above, so below.

To strengthen your psychical immune system learn to love and respect yourself first. Once you do, showing love and respect TO others and requesting it FROM others is the logical consequence.

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