In my previous post I wrote about the toxicity of the ‘love and kindness’ doctrine promoted so heavily by all sorts of so-called spiritual leaders. I described how it emotionally mutilates people, gaslights them and brainwashes them into excusing toxic behaviours and instead makes them feel faulty for feeling anger, a natural response to toxic behaviour.
Do the proper ‘love and kindness’ folks really not feel negative emotions?
The main presumption of the ‘love and kindness’ doctrine is that you should only feel positive emotions to others. You should not feel anger. You should not feel resentment. You should not feel hatred. If you do, something is wrong with you.
These doctrines totally ignore the fact that anger is a natural response to being treated poorly, to suffering injustice, to being invalidated and marginalised.
(Yes, there is also toxic anger that is felt by toxic individuals when someone enforces a boundary, not all anger is healthy anger, but that’s another topic).
The self-affirming bubble and the cult system
Sometimes, people don’t even need to hide behind spirituality. My family of origin was not spiritual at all. Yet, some people had the privileges to emotionally, psychologically and physically abuse others. When those abused spoke up and expressed anger and resentment at the situation, they were immediately invalidated and silenced.
I described many times the reaction of one of my aunts, my father’s cousin, when I attempted to confide in her that my father was bullying me (My father used to call me a freak, a junkie, a liar, he told me to die and many other nice things that you would not expect to hear from a parent.)
That lovely aunt told me that I ‘had to understand’. And since I didn’t want to shut up, she started since propagating a story about me having mental health issues.
The whole point of these toxic ‘feel no anger’, ‘don’t make any fuss’ systems is the collective delusion and the collective unwillingness to deal with the hard stuff. The hard stuff being he darkness that the system perpetuates, the abuse it permits and enables, the injustice it promotes.
Most ‘love and kindness’ folks think they are somehow entitled to the good stuff and believe that people who have it bad somehow deserve it.
To maintain this delusion, they have to invalidate those who present information that is not in line with their beliefs about their superiority and faultlessness.
They have to scapegoat people who present the information that threatens their idea of themselves as perfect.
Let me give you a couple of examples. I used to be part of circles around transcendental meditation in London. I did have some really profound experiences with the technique, and I do credit it with helping me access my trauma. However, I soon became critical of how the technique is marketed and how this trauma release process is downplayed and sugar-coated. The technique is sold as some sort of a panacea. When you are signing up for the course, you are essentially told that within a few months, all your struggles will melt away and you will be enjoying eternal bliss.
The reality is quite different. If you are a trauma survivor, you are up for years of severe CPTSD and extreme emotional upheavals that would interfere with your ability to function. The meditation technique does make all the blocked off and compartmentalised stuff come up. And yes, you will heal and grow from it if you approach it the right way. But the process is really extreme and no one prepares you for that.
Once I started experiencing those extreme upheavals, I tried to communicate that within the meditation community with the naïve belief that maybe people would want to know that what’s happening to some people is quite extreme (you can find stories online about people jumping out of a window after starting meditating).
I remember one occasion when I was quite ruthlessly silenced by one of the key figures in those circles. They don’t want to hear anything that disturbs their ‘all bliss’ marketing message.
The scapegoat: If you speak-up, you must be toxic
And that brings me to the key mechanism that the ‘love and kindness’ folks use to maintain their lovely psycho bubble: Scapegoating.
As I said above, it’s not necessarily just the ‘love and kindness’ cult, but every group of people that cannot really properly look at the facts and realities of life and needs to have around them a constantly self-propping bubble of people repeating their own opinions.
In a healthy environment, people should be able to really hear what everybody has to say, especially if it’s disconcerting and bringing up some unpleasant realities. People should be able to go to the facts, because facts cannot be disputed. But culty types love haze and ignore facts.
The person who brings up the facts that are not in line with the cult’s doctrine needs to be scapegoated. As I described in the case of my family, they like to use the mental health thing quite a lot. The scapegoat simply has to be somehow weird, difficult, negative, full of resentment, or whatever. Essentially, the ‘love and kindness’ folks show zero love and kindness to the scapegoat. Instead, they create a story of the scapegoat that fits into their narrative and that by itself is an act of violence. Dismissing a person just because what they are saying doesn’t fit into your agenda without looking at the facts is psychological violence, it’s toxic and it’s a sign of emotional immaturity.
The covert and passive aggression game
In many of these cult-like settings, you have specific rules around anger. You are not supposed to express it openly because if you do – gotcha! – you are crazy. Some people do have the privilege of expressing it, especially in toxic families, but that gets blamed on the scapegoat anyway (the child deserved it).
The typical example of this would be my drunken mother raging at me how do I dare to tell her she was drunk. It’s me who is the problem, not the fact that she is completely wasted in front of her children.
Most of the time, the toxic people love to use covert and passive aggression to show their superiority. They shut you down, don’t allow you to communicate whatever unsettling reality you are conveying. They come up with a reason that has nothing to do with what you are saying to discredit whatever you are saying. You are left with the feeling of frustration, anger and resentment for being so ruthlessly shut down.
Ad hominam attacks are a very common tool. You are made to feel like something less than, like a person that is not supposed to speak, no matter what is the foundation of your message.
Are you crazy or are they crazy? Why are you not allowed to speak?
If you have been on the receiving end of these behaviours, you might end up feeling like an unworthy person who does not have the right to speak. Well, you do have a right to speak, but they don’t like what you have to say, so they have to discredit and silence you using one of the tools in their repertoire, preferably the one that people in their circle would not recognise as toxic.
What has worked for me is to stick to the facts. Get clear on the facts. Even the scapegoat might be wrong but be honest with yourself, what is your motivation for saying what you were saying? Did you know what you were talking about? Just hold onto your sense of self. The truth is that the majority of toxic people will not ever see the truth, they just make up a story in their head. Just leave them be and seek those who are capable of healthy human communication. That is those who don’t invalidate, silence and scapegoat.