A movement has been underfoot in the Independent Catholic Movement for as long as I can remember, but in more recent years it has become an anathema – exclusion in the name of inclusion. This phenomenon was born from individuals who were excluded from other religious groups for what ever reason, and were either removed or denied the ability to become part of the normative group. These excluded individuals banded together to form what is now a much more inclusive umbrella of faith expression, but is itself still severely limiting in that it, too, excludes individuals who think or act differently from the newly established norms. The problem is the breakaway groups are forming these new exclusionary inclusive groups from their own experiences of exclusion in one form or another and are perpetuating the exclusivity cycle.
But how did we get to this point? How did we move from forming inclusive groups to deal with the feelings of abandonment and exclusion to becoming a group that excludes in the name of inclusion? It all boils down to the unhealthy expression of unmet needs we experienced in our formative years of development.
The path to exclusion
We all have needs; problems arise when we have needs that are unmet. Well, that’s actually not true. For most people, unmet needs are easily dismissed due to resilience and a healthy expression of the irritation of not having needs met. Over time, however, unmet needs can begin to cause bigger and bigger problems in that if we have too many unmet needs, we can begin to feel excluded. Too many unmet needs over larger periods of time can result in unhealthy processing of emotions – especially if we never learned to work through those emotions in a healthy manner – and the projecting of our needs onto others until our needs are met. When this becomes a habit, it is virtually impossible to break without professional help.
If we go through a prolonged period of unmet needs, emotional problems will develop. In “Rethinking ‘Don’t Blame the Victim’: The Psychology of Victimhood” (Ofer Zur, 2008), Dr. Zur states there are four main needs that when unmet will result in exclusionary tactics. Seeking to escape the pain of one unmet need results in us moving to other zones of exclusion – entitlement and righteousness. These paths manifest one to the other usually in the following order:
- Neediness: neediness comes from the habituated idea that it is someone else’s responsibility to meet an individual’s needs that are not being fulfilled. This is usually the result of dependent personality types that have had their needs met by other individuals either through direct or indirect methods. When the needs are met, it is usually because of some persistent verbalization, whether through a baby’s cry or continuous complaining by teens/adults.
- Victimhood: victimhood is the sense of powerlessness and a longing for people to take notice as a result of overexposure to not having needs met. The individual will begin to identify as a victim of abuse or neglect as a result of not having their needs met – whether those needs are healthy or unhealthy. In people who routinely believe they are victims, this may then result in feelings of entitlement and/or righteousness. This is NOT the same victimhood as experienced from traumatic events such as the many forms of abuse and/or physical trauma.
- Entitlement & Righteousness: These traits emerge from a state of self-preservation after extended periods of feelings of victimhood and exclusion. When a person’s needs are met after verbose exchanges, the individual may feel a sense of entitlement and that their verbosity resulted in their needs being met. Again, think of a child having a tantrum and then getting what they want so they will be quiet.
Each of the above paths stem from unmet needs and the feeling “I am not good enough.” Seeking to escape the emotional discomfort that was never normalized or appropriately worked through results in a linear movement from one path to another.
The path to inclusion
Just as there are four main areas of unmet needs that result in feelings of exclusion, there are five emotional needs that when met help us feel included. Rajkumari Neogy, an expert in executive coaching who utilizes epigenetics and neurobiology explores five paths to inclusion. They are:
- Integrity: This form of integrity is a state of being whole and undivided. Think Star Trek and hull integrity, if the hull is breached then chaos ensues. Emotional integrity, then, is when what a person feels and express are congruent, or are in agreement. When our emotions are congruent with our actions, we have accountability. Accountability is the first step in allowing a move towards true inclusion.
- Participation: When we experience inclusivity, that is to say when we begin to experience others who are equally as integrated, we begin to build healthy boundaries and relationships, and we begin to engage the world around us. This critical path helps us learn when to be reserved and when to engage, which is critical in inviting others to feel welcomed into any situation. This is a key tenet in building trust.
- Trust: Their are two distinct parts of trust – knowing when to withhold and knowing when to be transparent. There is an art to knowing when to listen or hold back, or be forthright or transparent. Those who have not mastered this particular path are more closely associated with “victimhood”. It is difficult to trust someone who doesn’t live congruently or discloses too much or too little.
- Connection: After establishing integrity, participation, and trust, establishing an emotionally healthy connection is relatively easy. This requires lots of work, courage, and patience, and is critical in establishing communication that is truly inclusive. When connecting with individuals who are not like-minded, we are able to face the emotional challenge head-on and without the need to exclude, or without the need to travel the exclusionary path.
- Support: This final path to inclusion is perhaps the most critical in that when people are better connected to their own sense of wellness and healthy expression of inclusion; when they are better connected with others as well as themselves, the desire to support one another becomes the default. Being supportive means going from fearful to generous, and seeking prosperity for others – including those with whom we do not share the same principles or ideals. People who provide support can cultivate a thriving culture that is essential to the health of an organization, team, and other individuals (and ourselves).
The above five paths are most effective when met in sequential order, in every aspect of our lives. If they aren’t met, we might feel excluded, which can be triggered in a variety of ways. From someone simply using the cell phone while you’re having a conversation, to noticing that someone didn’t say hello to you as they walked by. Ultimately, exclusion comes from some version of not feeling valued or welcomed AND the unhealthy processing of the resulting emotions.
Breaking the mindset of exclusion in the Independent Catholic Movement.
In order to break the cycle and mindset of exclusion, we must become aware of our paths of exclusion or inclusion. If we don’t break the cycle of exclusion, those that have previously been excluded may continue to exclude others, for whatever reasons, as an unhealthy means to protect themselves. This exclusion takes the form of denying anyone for arbitrary and often illegitimate reasons. We then engage in unhealthy expressions that lead us down dark pathways of gossip and hate-mongering. When we become aware of the path we are taking, we can break free by working through emotions in a healthy manner and by working to heal our perceived victimization without projecting onto others, without placing blame outside ourselves, and without engaging external validation of perceived wrong-doings.
Which path do you travel? We are all on a journey, but in the case of those of us who serve as religious, ours is supposed to be a particular path of inclusion, where all who seek healing are embraced – whether they display that want or not. At no time did a Divine Human, whose teachings we profess to follow, exclude. He instead followed a path of healing and love, one which is illusive in this day and age.
Today we exclude people who are angry or who are less than inclusive in the way we want or perceive. Instead of inviting to discussion, we engage in victimization and travel a path of exclusion. Many do this without any personal awareness where others do so with great and malicious intent. When we exclude, we prevent the saving grace of the Creator from being present and working in people’s lives – we become co-destroyers with the adversary rather than co-creators with the Divine.
To break the cycle and mindset of exclusivity, we need to begin again to form our religious into healthy expressions of inclusion by helping them find health and healing in their own lives – to work through past problems and help them to move forward into their highest good. What then to do with those who refuse to grow? Do we exclude and remove them? No, we help them find a place where they can begin to find healing. We engage in open and healthy communication. We bring them to the table and open ourselves to accountability and working through our own biases and misgivings. We do as the one we claim to follow – we heal ourselves and then help our wayward wanderer. We do this instead of engaging in exclusive inclusivity!