Inner Decisions


I’m watching my birdfeeders this morning and becoming increasingly angry. The starlings, those mean greedy birds, are stealing everything and chase away the pretty little chickadees. I sit here contemplating what to do about the starlings. I’m getting more frustrated and angrier. Now I have heartburn and want to each cake. Maybe a whole cake.

Is this about the starlings? Yes, they are an invasive species that have been here for so many hundreds of years can we still call them invasive? Do they invade every nook and cranny in the barn and take over the feeders? Yes, that is their way. Are they harming me? No. Are they harming the songbirds? Well, probably not because there are acres and acres of land here for everyone to share, they are just eating the suet. So, what’s my issue?

There are many ways to be violated, and humans seem adept at creating new ways every day. Each of us has experienced violations in multiple ways. What we often are less ready to admit is how we have violated others.

It is much easier for us to see and agree upon intentional acts where someone purposely impacts our lives. We can all agree that when someone is mugged in the alley that is a crime, a violation of the law, and of the person. There are major and minor willful violations. A three-year-old pockets a candy bar from the store – sure, that’s willful, but how intentional? How the parents manage that situation can set the course for future violations.

Accidental violations are different. I was late for work and I wasn’t paying full attention to my driving and I cut you off in traffic. I really didn’t mean to, but it is a clear violation of you. It upset you, probably. How upset you are will depend on how your day is going, how resilient you are, where you are headed, and your inherent ability to see the bigger picture.

You accidentally bump into me at the coffee shop and I spill some of my coffee. Do I excuse you or berate you? Will that depend on whether you apologize and the quality of the apology? Will that depend on my comfortability with confrontation? Will it depend on my ability to forgive?

Our sense of violation depends on our perspective, our mood, our history. Feeling violated is never based on one single act upon us. It is a culmination, and that culmination isn’t made of a repeated series of the same violation, it is based on how the violations make us feel. I’m not talking about emotionally; I’m talking about how the violations are stored in our body as sensations.

Repeatedly experiencing sensations associated with a violation of any sort and not discharging (managing in a healthy way) those sensations may lead to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, heart conditions, high blood pressure, arthritis, and a whole assortment of mental and physical health conditions.

So, what’s the deal with the starlings? Ah. Yes. I’m feeling the violation as they invade a place I hold as sacred. I feel that sensation in my sternum and a stabbing sensation in the back of my left shoulder. I’ve been feeling this for a couple of days now, since the violation of the Capitol Building in D.C.  I need to stay with the sensations I’m experiencing and feel them fully. I do not want to harbor them away to compound some other violation on some other day.

It’s not the starlings. They are just birds.


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