Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
I find it rather difficult to find the silver lining of the burning and destruction of Lähainä town in Maui. What’s even more unfortunate and sad to see, is the blame game that is up and running – fingers pointing at who is responsible for not mitigating this horrific carnage. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, several law firms representing survivors are suing Hawaiian Electric. State leaders, regulators and litigators are jumping aboard in support of the survivors.
Although there are some conflicting reasons why the emergency sirens did not go off or why no emergency alerts were sent to warn people of the dangers. So what gives?
The true nature of a person is expressed during times of intense challenges. And why do we first react by pointing fingers and blaming others instead of reacting with heartfelt compassion for our fellow man or woman? On the other hand, we can also take it to the extreme as well and exhibit survivor’s remorse and judge ourselves for not being the ones to have suffered or gone through this experience.
The focus of this article is to take a look at the use of blaming or shaming and how this act is cultivated by the way we treat ourselves and our bodies. I am also guilty of this habit and often find myself judging my body when I pick up weight and get a second and even third chin (I’m presently down to two). To the tight-fitting pants that require me to suck in my tummy to zip up and fasten my pants.
This is where I feel bringing the heart back into your decisions and actions is essential to get through any challenging ordeal. When emotions run high and we are unable to rein in our feelings, this often leads us to make decisions we regret – such as saying something hurtful to another, doing things that create self-harm and possibly injuring innocent bystanders. Unfortunately, our programming was created in childhood and was a necessary survival strategy that later became the way we react and function in the world. So, the question is, How can we channel our childhood experiences – without reacting – but instead know that we can choose how to respond in challenging situations? Until we bring consciousness and responsibility into our choices, ultimately our actions will determine what will happen in the future. The future’s not set in stone, but what you do in the present moment dictates what will occur.
This mindset was cultivated by society and what is deemed attractive and appropriate has become the accepted norm. Only until the last couple of years, being skinny and focusing on outer beauty was the main driver in some people’s decisions. Working out and dieting fads were the craze instead of accepting your body just the way it was. Whenever there is pain or a health crisis, the common method is to medicate or take pain-relief substances to make it stop, instead of taking the time to ask yourself, Why did my body create this pain or health challenge? If the power of the body created the pain or disturbance, doesn’t it make sense that the body should be able to heal it too?
Often when we tweak our lower back or an inconvenient pain immobilizes us, instead of thanking our body we blame and curse the body. Why do we do this? I do not like pain per say, but over the years I have learned that if we do not pay attention to our body’s initial signals such as muscle tightness and decreased flexibility, then pain is not too far away.
Instead of taking responsibility for not paying attention to our life stressors or our body’s signals we get upset with the body for failing us and it usually happens at the most inopportune time. Either we catch a bad cold in the beginning of a long-awaited vacation or we are unable to take care of the multiple obligations because of pain or a debilitating health condition.
I encourage you to first take an honest self-assessment of what is going on in your life. Have you been neglecting self-care or keeping yourself so busy and occupied causing you to avoid what is really bothering you? Financial woes, personal relationship challenges, family obligations, upcoming life changes are just a few suggestions that could be at the root of your discomfort or “dis-ease.” Oftentimes, being brutally honest with yourself and self-reflecting can help you out of your physical ailments. Your state of unease, or in other words “dis-ease,” is a manifestation of any underlying situation in your life that you have conflict. Resolve the conflict and achieve harmony once more.
When your feelings or emotions come into play that’s usually when all hell breaks loose. We either express ourselves without restraint or we suppress uncomfortable emotions. Part of the COVID-19 pandemic was perpetuated due to fears and uncertainties. So how do we get control over our emotions?
I learned a decade ago from Dr. John DeMartini, human behavior specialist, that emotions are a result of a one-sided perception. The moment you hold onto seeing the world as only white or black, you create an emotional charge. The need to feel right or justified further complicates the matter and instead of thinking rationally, we get caught up in our emotions and the roller coaster ensues.
The technique I learned to balance the charged feeling was to see the benefits of a future feared event. The way to diffuse the anxiety or fear is to list out the benefits for you or your loved ones if that future event should occur. This may sound counter-intuitive, but if you can begin to see how a future event isn’t so scary due to the benefits that you will get, the fear will be diminished.
With all the suffering of loved ones and our fellow island neighbors, it’s difficult to stay emotionally neutral. Instead of detaching from your feelings and emotions, tap into that energy. Emotions are literally energy in motion or “e-motion.” The trick to using your emotions as energy is to feel your feelings and instead of trying to figure out and justify the emotions, do your best to push your thoughts aside and allow yourself to feel. If you can do this, within five to 10 minutes, you will feel a shift and the emotional charge will be significantly less.
You may not yet have the ability to control your body or emotions, but you do have control of your mental state and thoughts. Taking the time to build your mental fortitude or resilience is essential. You have the power to choose what thoughts you entertain and just by changing your frame of reference of a past or current experience can help you to navigate your life with more ease. The old saying, “There are two sides to every story” rings truer than ever. The most difficult part of perspectives is that it’s based upon your own personal experiences. Your past will color your viewpoint every time but recognize that you have the power in the moment to decide whether or not that view holds true now. Use your mental prowess to decipher and determine what you see and hear to be true or not. Tapping into your intuition will further help you to mentally come to decisions that are uniquely yours. The more that you achieve a more balanced perspective will help you not only physically but also avoid blaming as well.
The most difficult aspect when a horrific incident occurs is to question, Why would such a thing happen? All these unsuspecting innocent souls and losses could have been avoided; trying to understand the reason can cause anyone to shift into despair. This is where faith and ultimately being able to accept that which doesn’t make sense is important. Question whatever we are told and decide what not only seems right, but what feels right. Striving to become like nature, where there is no good or bad, but things happen for a reason. By tuning into your body, listening to your intuition, and achieving a balanced perspective will assist in not blaming, but shift you into speaking and taking the right action.
The blame game is a part of human nature, but the more we can stay centered in our hearts instead of our minds, the more successful we will be in shifting out of blame. Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture also helps us find a solution versus getting stuck in blaming and creating stagnancy and continued suffering. The more you can choose to be kind to yourself and your body, the more it will help to reflect that energy in the world you want to see.
Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the doctor of chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (drchadsato.com), in Mänoa valley, O‘ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.