In the previous post I mentioned several forms of violence. In this post I would like to discuss "microviolence". I suspect that this is actually the most lethal of all violent behaviors. Not because the individual or brief act itself is more aggressive or violent, but because of its commonness and consistency. Microviolent behavior is seemingly innocuous, and yet it can have a powerful impact on individuals. It is likely that many physically violent acts come about as the result of years and decades of micro violent actions. It perpetuates shame, and undermines the individual's confidence and sense of self. Microaggression might be defined as daily and commonplace indignities, either intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile derogatory or negative attitude toward others. When we communicate there are always two messages that we send to the other. There is the verbal message and the non-verbal message. Sometimes the non-verbal message matches the meaning of the verbal message and we call this communication sequence congruent. The tone with which we speak often does not match the verbal message. Many times our non-verbal messages say much more than the words we actually speak. A facial gesture, our tone, or our eye movement speak "volumes", as they say. Of course the words we speak themselves may be insulting, but our non verbal messages can lend themselves to be extremely hurtful, demeaning, and violent. Often they may be unintended, however, it does not make them any less violent. Just as silence itself may be an extremely violent act. This is not really news, we all know these things, but too often we don't pay enough attention to how our behavior is really having a detrimental impact, and is hurtful to others. Sometimes we are not mindful and our aggression is untended, and unfortunately, there are times when we are just being mean and feel justified in hurting someone. Repeated dismissive glances to a partner, or a child over time has the potential to be extremely injurious. The saying that "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me", may not be all that accurate. When we look at the degree of shame in our society, the shame that is likely at the root of most addictive behavior, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, physical violence, and even divorce, we might give that statement some additional thought. You have heard me say this before, but, just as we can pollute our water or air, we may unconsciously pollute our family or social environment, that same environment that we rely on to sustain and nurture us. We may even be surprised that we are not getting what we want and need. We might even blame others for our own unhappiness. I don't exclude myself from this one either. We all have our blind spot and we can't always see ourselves. When we don't realize that we have a blind spot we are in deep trouble! We can work at being kinder and being more mindful, but it is so much easier just to blame someone else. As the song goes, "If I am good to the river, the river will be good to me". Maybe not always, but most of the time.
The Power of Microvoilence
Click here to view and print forms for your appointment.Click Here