RAGE THAT LEADS TO VIOLENT EXTREMISM: TAMING THE BEAST WITHIN US
Why is violent extremism so hard to discard? Why does a man with so much to lose risk radicalization? Does lack of clear purpose in life drive one to belief in any narrative nearby? Is it an issue of social or spiritual control or the power of negative thoughts? Is it the challenge of conquering the extreme emotional tantrum? In any case, what can we do when the beast within us want to jump the fence? The beast within us in this context refers to the good and evil wolves that always battle each other within us that no man is immune to, no matter how he/she thinks of him/herself.
From my first hand experiences to seeing people behave, be it adults, sibling, children and parents, I have become painfully educated on the impact of violent extremism on people’s lives. Both by suicide bombing, terror attacks, assassinations, insurgency or kidnappings I have heard incredible stories about promising lives ruined by some form of violent or another.
We learned that negative emotions are within us for specific reasons. Gary Null explains why these emotions are important, and how we can express them in a healthy way, not in a destructive one. We should learn about what happens if I hold my unexpressed anger? What are my personal triggers and how do I manage road rage or interact with rude people? How do I comprehend frightening uncertainties like terrorism and natural disasters? How do I stop myself from expressing anger in a way that hurts others? How should I normalize my emotions and ground myself? And also how do I keep absorbing other people’s negative energy — their anger, frustration and resentments?
The challenges, then is re-educating oneself and learning how not to listen to that voice that plays Jump off-pocket every time. And in my experience, no one does that alone, it takes work to create space where you can investigate the validity of the voices that motivates and inspire you — and to transform those voices into ones that motivates and inspire you in a positive way.
Through research, Jeff Tirengel fell upon the practice of Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) as a way of taming the beast within us. MSC focuses on three main points; kindness directed inwards, a sense of common humanity and mindfulness. He said, “While positive psychology has tended to focus on the value of kindness to others, MSC calls attention to the complimentary need for kindness directed inwards”. Jeff further elaborated on this by stating we must be kind not only to others around us but also to ourselves. Rather than criticizing ourselves when we fail or suffer, we must practice being caring and understanding.
Self-Compassion also includes maintaining a sense of common humanity. We must realize that human beings are not perfect creatures, and that they do not suffer in silence. Jeff states “We can’t always get what we want and we can’t always be who we want to be”. It helps individuals to be more compassionate not only to those around them but to their own struggles.
The other component of Self-Compassion is mindfulness. This is essentially the practice of acknowledging our emotions and painful thoughts. “You can’t ignore or deny your pain and feel compassion for it at the same time”. Mindfulness contains two key elements: Paying attention to the present moment; and being able to relate the experience with an open acceptance stance”.
This also reminds me of a story that an old man told to his grandson about a terrible fight between two wolves. The old man describes each wolf, evil and good. At the end, the boy asking which wolf will win, the old man simply states “the one you feed”. This means that inside of men, a beast snarls, growls and strains towards whatever one believes in and constantly feed his conscience with. And the deeper one goes on the wrong lane, the harder it is to get back on track. Hence, humanity is a cage, and our puritanical sensibilities comprise the bars. We are confined by our own sense of reason and intellect, and yet most of us don’t even know it.
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