Anger Dehumanizes

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When I’m angry with someone, to any degree, I find that I’m unable to see the other person as a vulnerable, feeling human being like myself. It’s strange, but in those moments they seem kind of not human to me and deserving of my punishment…that they deserve my angry thoughts or words.  In other words, I dehumanize them. I now realize that it’s inhumane to project my anger onto others.

Now that I’m willing to see this tendency in myself, I see it happening all around me as well, virtually everyone engaging in this behavior in one way or another. I see it reflected on TV and in movies. I see it in “polite” conversations and “joking.”

When we feel someone has wronged us in some way and we get angry at them for it and want them to feel bad about it and suffer for it—that’s dehumanizing them.

We dehumanize someone every time we scold them, ridicule them, are sarcastic with them, give them the cold shoulder, the silent treatment, make passive aggressive comments or “jokes”, or any technique that will make them feel bad or small.

When we want someone to feel small it’s because we are feeling superior, as if we are a better person than them—another sign that we are dehumanizing them.

Vilifying other people allows us to justify our desire to attack. It’s a necessary step for excusing our attack, whether it is carried out through silent thoughts, spoken words, a slap or a punch, all the way up to war and murder.

We have become so accustomed to this behavior that we don’t even notice it, or we feel it is good and normal. It may be common, but it’s not good, and not normal to our true nature and potential.

The opposite of projecting anger is to have compassion.

I find that it’s impossible to vilify someone when I feel compassion for them, and it’s impossible to feel compassion for someone when I’m vilifying them.

Projecting anger at someone —in any form—dehumanizes them. I feel that we can see that this is true if we become an observer of our angry feelings and take notice of our tendency to project it, and how we feel during those moments. Love and compassion are nowhere to be found. Only victimhood, anger, and a desire to punish, to “set the other person straight.”

We don’t like it when others treat us with anger, yet we feel it’s justified to be that way toward others. We are completely dismissing the golden rule.

Wouldn’t we all want to be treated with compassion? Humanely? Wouldn’t we prefer to be helped out of our harmful ways rather than condemned and punished?

I believe that compassion is something we must foster if our goal is achieve peace, healing and growth. How else? Obviously what we are doing is not working. We haven’t yet learned how to deal with our angry feelings without projecting them or suppressing them. That’s ok. We can have compassion with ourselves too. We can make new choices.


Featured Image: My husband Jeff overlooking the Gulf of Mexico from a beach at Cedar Key, Florida on a cloudy winter’s day. Photo by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman).

How We Feel Is How We Consume

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As young children we were largely under the control and influence of others, but as adults, what we consume tends to match our emotional state.

My primary substance right now is food. I crave refined & processed foods when an emotion pops up that I don’t want to face or feel.

As children we are all trained from the beginning that many of our feelings are not acceptable. In reality they are, but we are taught that they are not. We have been conditioned by others’ looks of disapproval or words of ridicule and shame. For most of us, also by physical violence (euphemistically called “discipline”).

So we learned to suppress our feelings, to hide them, to lie about them. We felt much grief and fear from the way our parents and the rest of the world responded to us feeling our feelings and we learned that many of them were taboo to feel.

So we turned to many various methods of suppressing, ignoring, denying and hiding our true feelings (our true selves) as a method of survival. We began engaging in many emotionally co-dependent relationships and interactions with other people, and we began using various physical methods to cover over our true emotional state.

My physical addictions have been food, soda, coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, illegal drugs, lots of parties and nights at the bars.

I eventually got sick of all the partying and gave up alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.

Then I noticed the unpleasant effects of coffee and soda and gave those up too.

Food is the last holdout for me. My diet is far healthier than ever (mostly whole plant foods) but I still sometimes feel needy for unhealthful refined and processed foods, which by now I know is an unerring indicator of avoiding an emotion.

More so these days, I’m willing to experiment, to go ahead and feel, to be uncomfortable, to cry and feel the pain that arises in my gut or heart or throat. I notice that when I do this, the cravings don’t pop up. There’s no need.

I’m learning to have compassion with myself when I don’t want to feel but at the same time I’m interested in growing a will to feel more.

I believe that the more we are willing to feel, the more we can heal, and the less we feel desperate to indulge in unhealthful, fleeting pleasures in order to avoid feeling. I believe it’s our best method for becoming able to be who we really are, the very best version of ourselves.


Featured Image: A typical daily salad we enjoy while we are out on the road working in our truck (We are team truck drivers). Photo by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman).

Let’s Just Be For Real

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Not real mean. Not real arrogant. Not real closed, cold and distant. Not real polite and afraid. Not real manipulative and controlling. Because these behaviors all result from fear and addiction, from not being real.

I’m talking about just being real. Real open. Real honest. Real truthful. Transparent. Laying all the cards out on the table. Wearing our hearts on our sleeves.

Really admitting what we are really feeling, what our real motives are, what we really want and don’t want. How we really feel about each other. How we really perceive the world around us.

Let’s admit all the harmful feelings as well as the good. What have we got to hide and why? What are we afraid of?

Let’s walk through the fear, let’s stop hiding and pretending and lying and keeping our mouths shut for fear of how others will react to our honesty or what they will think of us. Because doing so fosters resentment, anger, rage, rebellion and explosive behavior or depression, and pain, suffering and disease. And worst of all, an absence of love.

Let’s choose courage. And use it to do the good, right and healthful things that our world has trained and encouraged us not to do.

We have all been born into an emotionally and physically unhealthy environment. Some far more harsh than others.

We have all been conditioned and trained into largely not being our real selves. We started out being open, honest, adventurous, playful, trusting and kind.

We were taught to stop being this way—to start being afraid to feel, to cry, to speak the truth. We were discouraged from being open and honest, of loving ourselves and others. We were punished and disapproved of for being ourselves, convinced that we should feel ashamed and guilty every time we didn’t conform to the expectations of others. We were taught that we had to sacrifice who we are in order to become something that others would approve of. We were given false ideas and beliefs about love, God, life, and truth.

What if we reverse this harmful, unloving tradition? What if we divert our energy and attention into returning to our true character and nature?

I believe that in order to do that we must foster an attitude of courage in the face of fear, to begin practicing being completely real, warts and all.

I believe that openness, honesty and transparency is the starting point–the baseline–for real healing to enable ourselves to be restored to wholeness.


Featured Image: Our “grand-dog” Roxy when she came out on the road with me and Jeff in our truck. She is checking out the view from the bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, Luoisiana. Photo by Brenda Kay Forest (Hoffman).