Imbalanced versus Inherently Flawed: The 6 Conduits
Our culture tells us that humans are flawed by nature because we are capable of great violence and meanness. This view allows us to accept the high degree of pain and suffering we see in human life right now in this culture, since we assume it’s just a natural result of our violent and selfish tendencies. Yet meanness, violence, and greed are behaviors – actions we choose based on what we perceive to be in our interest and what is acceptable in our cultural context. It is in our nature to be capable of expressing a wide range of emotions, but how we choose to behave is largely the result of cultural training and can be changed. None of the emotions we experience and behaviors we choose are necessarily wrong or bad, but all of them affect the quality of our life on earth. When we take from other people, for example, we feel disharmony, and that’s not wrong so much as it is an indicator of a potential lesson to be learned.
Many people in our culture carry unresolved emotional issues throughout their lives. We come to believe that this “baggage” is a permanent fixture of being human rather than the result of imbalances due to cultural training. In his book No Ordinary Moments, Dan Millman illustrates beautifully how these emotional imbalances can lead to ill health. A person’s vital energy builds up around areas of emotional hurt and becomes uncomfortable, at which point they can either examine the hurt or release the pent-up energy as quickly as possible to provide some relief. Millman describes 7 conduits people depend upon to release pent-up emotional hurt rather than examine it directly:
1. Alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
2. Stress-produced illness or injuries
4. Fear and high-risk activity
This is not to say that every time someone experiences one of these it is merely an attempt to release pent-up energy. It is only when they are used as emotional conduits and become habit that we risk illness. The first step toward changing habits is recognizing our own and others’ patterns. It is important to remember that when we see ourselves or other people in our lives creating destructive situations, it isn’t because they are bad or lesser people but more because they are in pain and seeking an outlet. Our culture teaches us to judge – we learn to think a person is bad if they participate in risky behaviors, just as we learn to believe humans have a nasty streak by nature. Again, we are neither inherently mean and bad nor inherently kind and good. When you observe yourself or others falling into destructive habits, try to exercise compassion. Many people hold emotional traumas from childhood, past relationships, or just plain fears, and most of us are not encouraged to express and release our emotions so that we can move on. Our habits reflect not so much our inherent bad or good nature but our cultural training and learned or unlearned lessons in life. Remember that people can change, given a supportive social environment and an understanding of the benefits of personal growth.