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Harmony Hypnosis - Sheffield

Morality and mental health

Jul 29, 2022

Morality and mental health

While recently watching a youtube interview with Peter Hitchens and Owen Jones, Jones asked Hitchens about the moral compass of the Prime Minister. His response was very thought provoking.

He said that irrespective of his thoughts about the Prime Minister, morality was a personal thing. He said that the whole point of morality was to reflect on our own behaviour, values and temptations. It’s not about telling others what they should and shouldn’t do.

We’re all human and if you’re reading this I would bet that at some stage you might have become embroiled in a big moral argument, possibly about politics or ethics, on social media. When you “know” you’re in the right, sticking your oar in is almost irresistible and I wonder if you remember noticing the heart rate suddenly increasing and a feeling of elation and excitement as you hit the send button.

Even if you’ve not been involved in it, this type of online activity is happening all the time. A consistent theme is morality. The message generally being “I’m more moral and righteous than you”, which can be further translated as “I’m better than you”. Well, that’s the whole point of arguing, is it not? To prove you’re better than your opponent? That’s why arguing is a terrible way to use your energy; something that is equally important in relationships as it is outside them. If you love a person then proving yourself to be better than them is not a demonstration of love and kindness. It will only create resentment and emotional pain.

So if we can acknowledge the pain it can cause to our loved ones (again, I’m betting that many of you will remember at least one huge argument that still hurts to this day and on reflection seemed utterly pointless and avoidable), why is it okay to do it online? Why is it okay to try to belittle others and claim superiority?

Well that physical response you get is a clue to why it happens, and social media companies exploit this. The primitive part of your brain will respond to dominance and reward you with neurochemicals if it is tricked into thinking you are powerful and moving up the chimpanzee hierarchy. Dig down and its obvious why this might be; the higher up the dominance hierarchy you are, the more mating opportunities and accumulation of resources you will naturally have, hence the brain rewards it. It’s how you evolved over tens of millions of years; survival is the name of the game.

So where does this fit into morality. Going back to Peter Hitchens comment, he indicated that overcoming temptations was part of what it meant for him.

If we all gave into our temptations and primitive instincts, then where does that leave room for compassion, love and charity? Or what about manners, hospitality and social ethics? All things that are needed in a functioning society, are they not?

As a psychotherapist, I want you to recognise and INTEGTRATE that dark side, the deep instincts that drive your survival and strive for dominance. You can do this my making these unconscious instincts, conscious and shining the light of awareness and acceptance on them. They are neither bad, nor good and can be integrated without judgement. The great Carl Jung called this ‘shadow integration’ and he deemed it fundamental to becoming a whole and healthy individual.

Before you next get involved in an argument of any kind, take a deep breath and ask yourself “do I really want to hurt another human being”. We are gifted with an incredible ability to imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes…so use that power as often as you can.

There’s a reason why that other person is acting in a way that is causing you to feel triggered, perhaps they feel lonely and need to feel part of a tribe, perhaps they have unresolved trauma…maybe they are deeply insecure so putting others down is their source of control. From my observations in this line of work, I can tell you it’s likely that all of these things are behind the behaviour. The Buddhists say that life is suffering and when you see behaviour through this lens, it can permanently change the way you see people, for the better.

It all starts with you, so be the best version of yourself and set the example to others.

Thank you for reading.

    Why not book a consultation now by calling 07401127872 or by messaging through the website?

    I offer therapy online or locally in Sheffield.

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