Group dynamics are intriguing to me. As social beings, we are introduced to this dynamic first in our families, then in school with our friends, and then with coworkers and other groups we may belong to. It’s always interesting to me to watch small children interact for the first time together. It starts with them staring at each other. And then usually one of them will start playing and the other joins in. Simple. How often do adults do that?
We often surround ourselves with people that agree with us. We operate in packs and groups. And try as we might to play nice in the sandbox….there are always times when two personalities just don’t mix well. Like oil and vinegar as they say. I also believe that most conflict comes from a place of fear. Fear of being wrong or judged. And that fear is often derived from within. There is rarely any conflict that is one-sided. It usually takes two to tango!
So, I’ve learned over the years not to worry about being right or wrong. And not to judge other people I may disagree with, but rather accept their experience and try to learn what I can from it. Disagreeing with someone does not automatically make one right and the other wrong. Differing opinions are just that…different. And if you can accept and respect that other people are just different, it opens your heart and your ears to a whole new world of understanding and empathy.
Why I am writing about this here? Blame it on the full moon, solar flares, asteroids coming too close to the earth…or whatever else you want…..the fact is, in Lymeland….group dynamics get complicated. This is something that has perplexed me from the minute I did my first Google search on Lyme disease.
Most of us are chronically ill. Many of us experience emotional extremes. All of us are terrified and confused. That we have in common. The thing is….this disease affects everyone so differently, and to such differing degrees, that it is impossible for everyone to completely understand every aspect to this disease.
And because we all struggle so much with diagnosis, treatment, and finding the truth…we become very attached to our perspective and our experience. Often, we close our ears to any new information because in some way…many of us believe it somehow invalidates our experience. And in return, we often invalidate the experience of others that may not fall in line with ours…or even contradict ours.
The truth is with the internet these days and online forums and social networking groups, it is easy to spew garbage through our keyboard and then run away and hide. It is easy to be mean and get defensive and read into things, misinterpret things because there is no facial expression or vocal tone to go along with the words. And this often causes some heated conversations, arguments, and in-fighting. To me….this is detrimental to our cause.
I try to keep in mind that the outside world is looking in and thinking, “Wow…those Lyme people are nuts! Look at how they go after each other!” It turns people away….it undoes whatever good has been done for awareness and education. And besides that, we are causing stress which makes us all sicker. It isn’t necessary!
So I would like to ask everyone to take a step back, take a deep breath. If you are talking to someone…anyone……and your heart is racing….you are probably not in the best space to respond appropriately. Sometimes…sleeping on it does wonders. Sometimes just writing it down, and not sharing it….also helps.
I have a different perspective….perhaps a unique view. I welcome any and all experience, opinions, and information. There is not one thing on this planet that we all have not learned from someone else. So why should this be any different? Why does it have to be centered around right and wrong. Why can’t it just be different and equally valid?
The fight we are fighting with this disease right now is very similar to the fight for HIV and AIDS in the past. The discrimination, the abandonment, the lack of treatment, awareness, and education…it is much the same. The big difference I see is back then there was no internet or forums. It was people, face to face, fighting to save lives. It was a strong and valiant movement….and a successful one. Their motto applies to Lyme today:
What we need in the Lyme community more than ever today….is adhesion. We need to join together, accept each other’s differences and experiences, and walk side by side in order to win this fight and save lives. United we stand. Divided we fall. This is not a new concept, but an important one to remember.
It’s all good fun until somebody pokes an eye out.
As the Winde blows….I will come again!