One of the most upsetting results of this election has been the support for hate. The number of people who have no problem with dividing us all further, allowing systemic racism to endure, and empowering so-called leaders who are blatantly hypocritical.
One reason for this is fear. Fear of change, fear of suffering, fear of losing what they have. And the people they elect play this fear like a violin virtuoso.
But it is a large number of different fears being played here. A lot of this is resistance to change. It is seeing that the world they know and want to believe exists doesn’t. But maybe this person (never mind their appalling record) will help them recover what was and keep what they have.
Fear makes people do things that work against their best interests. How many horror movies are based on that premise? Look at all the examples of how fear is used to manipulate people. Weaponize fear and you can persuade the people to do your bidding.
One of the biggest obstacles reason faces against fear is the resistance to change. Despite change being constant — people hate it. They avoid it like a plague. Tons of effort goes into resisting change. But it can and will happen. It is inexorable.
It’s very tempting to believe that you can help people change. Enough reason, enough proof and evidence — and viola! Change!
I think the election results show that this is not true.
You cannot change anyone else. You only can change you. And that can be infuriating.
I see the truth. Why can’t you?
When you have a reasonable, fact-based argument, science, and evidential proof to back your belief –resistance to that is utterly disconcerting. What the hell? How can anyone believe this when all the facts point in the other direction?
When Trump won in 2016, I worked in an office where most of my coworkers supported him. One, who thought himself reasonable, debated with me the idea of the border wall. You know, the impassible wall Mexico would pay for to keep illegals out?
I showed him all the various resources explaining why it wouldn’t work. That it was not a solution to immigration, nor drug trafficking, nor anything save a big egotistical idea with ZERO basis in fact.
Nope, all my proof — despite multiple, non-partisan sources — was bullshit. The wall was brilliant and would totally work.
You may have encountered this. Flat Earthers? Anti-vaxxers? White supremacists? Anti-feminists? People who utterly believe an idea — no matter how many well-vetted and scientifically proven facts you can give them — they stand-up for and fight for with vehemence.
Then, to add insult to injury — your fact against their opinion/belief is elitist, liberal, or some other dismissive label. Education and merit — once prized — is looked upon as making you a monster and suspect.
What can I do about this? How do I get these people to see reason? To be blunt — you can’t. There is nothing you can for them.
Save one thing only. Leave them shouting into the void.
Leave them to their beliefs and don’t engage. When they try to engage you — walk away (literally or figuratively).
I like to think of myself as a man of science, logic, and reason. I see the world from a broad lens where I examine the experiences of others and support those who have struggles I never have nor will.
That’s why I support Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights and freedom of choice, healthcare as a right not a privilege, and other radical, liberal, inclusive ideas. We grow stronger together than when we do divided.
When I share my ideas, life lessons, philosophy, and self-improvement tips, I have no control nor influence on you. They may impact you and bounce off your shields, maybe get through the shields and get filtered out, or even resonate with you and help you work in the same way I am to improve yourself.
I can’t change you or anyone else. I can show ideas, share paths, provide insights — but you alone can use that. Or not.
The only person you can change is you. This can be a disconcerting notion. As a reasonable and logical person, the illogical and ludicrously false beliefs some hold are infuriating.
But the more you resist that and work against it — the more they will resist and work against you.
Hence, I suggest altering your focus. (Which I need to take my own advice on and do here). Change yourself.
Facts are not always immutable. They can and will change. I need to change with them. If I want to do better, have better, and be my ideal self it is on me and me alone to change for that.
But isn’t this selfish?
Much of what we call selfish is not true selfishness. Self-care, taking time and energy for yourself and those you love is NOT selfish.
Selfish involves taking with no regard to anyone else. It is a lack mentality. Since there is not enough of ‘X’ I will take all I can — to hell with anyone else.
Let’s take a real-life example: Health care costs. I take a couple of medications daily. Where I get them from alters the cost based on what my insurance company negotiated. One of them is $10 at one vendor — FREE at another. One of my drugs is $140 for a 30-day supply from one vendor — $120 for a 90-day supply at another.
How is this selfish? Because these drugs vary in cost due to someone’s need to make more money off of them. Greed, making the shareholders happy, and profit motivate a culture of selfishness so vast that they bankrupt people who are only trying to maintain their health and fight disease.
Selfish acts cause harm. However, a further definition is required. Selfish acts cause intentional harm.
For example, if I decide that someone is toxic — and I need to remove them from my life — they might feel hurt. Or a mutual friend might feel hurt. Feelings are offended and hurt has occurred.
But that wasn’t the intent. I have no control over how anyone else feels — so it happens. No intent of harm — but human nature causes it.
Intentional harm due to selfishness is knowing this will harm people. You act with knowledge of forethought and inflict harm. For example, the supply of a necessary product is limited — and you don’t need it. But you take it anyhow. Someone in need is harmed because they must go without. THAT is selfishness.
Become an influencer by changing yourself
Since you cannot change anyone but yourself — turn all your focus on working to change others inwards.
Presently, I am working to take my own advice. To do that I’m reading a book about habits. Perhaps, in building some new and better habits, I gain more control over change for myself.
You are not stuck in a singular form. You can change. This is an ability you possess. Mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally — you can change.
A lot of people find this challenging. But when you recognize the brilliance of this and work with it — you can create and recreate your life to be virtually anything you desire.
When you turn change on yourself — and strive to evolve and live a better, fuller, more desirable life — that can turn you into an influencer.
The key is not to flaunt this. Standing atop the mountain and shouting “Look at me! I have changed! Be like me!” will get you resistance.
When you change and your outlook improves — people will notice. Some people will get jealous — but others will ask, “What did you do that?”
That is how you become an influencer.
Nothing I suggest here is perfect. Many of my ideas — while they work for me — won’t work for you. AND — none of my beliefs are so set in stone as to be change-resistant.
Life unfolds minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. No matter how similar — each is different. Embracing change and turning it inwards makes it much easier to flow like water and accept and work with change.
When you are empowered and enjoying life’s challenges others may want a piece of that. Be subtle and show them potential — but know if they do not truly desire change — they won’t.
Change only comes from a desire to change. And that works only for you.
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and similar life lessons.
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