The spiral growth systems blog

heal a broken system

How do you heal a broken system?

Do we truly have the power to change broken systems? The ones that seem fraught with fear, control, and resistance. 

  • Systems that interconnect with each other, creating a black hole of frustrating dead ends when we try to fight them.
  • Systems that are harming people – perpetuating barriers, inequalities, and divides for individuals, communities, and entire countries of people. 
  • Systems that are led by people who make themselves inaccessible; and operated by people who feel just as helpless as those trying to break through them for change.
  • Vast webs of systems that perpetuate social, economic, racial, and gender divides all at the same time — worldwide government, legislature, immigration, mental and physical healthcare, prisons, big oil and beyond.
  • Smaller systems that still seem too big to crack. Like credit card companies, internet, or cell phone providers who think you still owe them money you paid months ago.

When I was in the first grade, I remained seated and silent every morning while the other kids stood up to chant the Pledge of Allegiance. Their hands crossed over their hearts, reciting words that I knew in my own were based in theft and bloodshed, and now represented haves and have-nots.

In the second grade, my mother dragged me out of my elementary school classroom. My fierce expression escalated like fireworks. I kicked and screamed my way out of the classroom — unwilling to back down until my teacher admit to her gender bias, and the harm it was causing the girls not ready to speak up.

My passion for getting to the core of the systems inhibiting freedom, love, and authentic power continued to grow throughout my 13-year career in social services. I devoted myself to understanding humanity and the systems that worked against us. And I realized that if I was going to make a significant change, I had to do it in a completely new way.

After 14 years devoting myself to finding a new way, my inner-idealist has transformed. 

Now, she fervently believes it’s even more possible to heal oppressive systems than the little kid who fought them tooth and nail. 
My inner-idealist has been replaced by an unshakeable knowing that we all have the tools required to transform broken systems into healthy ones. And it has been joined by quantifiable social proof that has allowed me to lay down my sword of fight and struggle. Living, and witnessing proof of a new way, has rendered me whole to the belief that harmful systems are not devoid of receiving help.

Though I am an advocate for building new systems from the ground up, I also believe it’s possible to transform the ones we have from the inside out. Why? Because what power is, is what is transforming. It’s less about dissolving the intricacies of harmful systems, and more about unraveling and ultimately dissolving, the power dynamics within them.

The humans within the systems are what have the power to transform them.

Our broken systems represent a power that is dying; a false power that our world has built upon a foundation of tightly interwoven fear. One fear, playing into another, and so on until even the most well-meaning policies, laws, and socially accepted customs became cemented into the confines of government, business, economy, community, and culture.

The world has felt it had no choice but to teach us to play small. We’ve faced defeat, as have all of our ancestors who came before us. It’s understandable. And it’s not our fault. Fear is a virus disguised in good intention. It has the propensity to quietly exponentialize upon itself until it appears entirely out of our control.

Let’s face it. If you’ve ever faced the red tape of a Department of Motor Vehicles office, you can probably understand why any of us would believe that the fortresses of false power are impenetrable. Being convinced that taking action to change them is pointless comes from unavoidable conditioning. However, as I said, the problem lies less in the red tape and the oppressive laws and policies themselves, and more in the humans perpetuating them. 

At the top of the list of where each of us innocently plays into perpetuating broken systems, is the human tendency to control when feeling controlled. 
The most loving intentions can wind up thwarted this way. An eye for an eye, even when connected to a great big heart, does indeed make the whole world go blind.

Defeat, however, comes not from attempting the impossible, but from believing that what happens is what makes it impossible. Failure is a required part of the process for the most potent possibilities to come alive. While, paralleling control at the top of the list of tendencies we all share, is fear. We’ve been taught — by buried experiences, well-meaning loved ones, and the unconscious mind’s tendency to prove what it is looking for — to believe that safety and protection mean things they do not.

When fear lies within the core of our crusade, unconscious perceptions of safety and protection act as our leaders, and defeat is inevitable.

Understanding our humanity gives us back the access to the tools we have to reverse fear’s exponential effects. We regain access to our innate ability to make friends with our unconscious fears. We rediscover the meaning of thought and emotion to guide us into a new reality.

Without befriending the tendencies to fear and control within ourselves, we wind up feeling like we’re in a game of bumper cars. Every effort to break through our fears of the broken system gives us whiplash. In the pain of the whiplash, it becomes difficult to see that our worries and fears are perpetuating themselves into an unconscious need to control.

When we flip our frustrations of broken systems back toward ourselves, we find that we haven’t been taught loving ways to break through to them.

  • No one has demonstrated the difference between taking a stand and demanding with aggression.
  • We never learned the difference between giving up versus giving something space to grow.
  • We have few examples of fierce love versus arrogance.
  • We have faltered in learning authentic and genuine power versus force.

While all the while, the challenges we experience with broken systems reflect back to us our own hidden fear and control. They arise so that we can relinquish them to the abyss of a false sense of protection that no longer supports our evolving paradigm.*

As we discover where we control when controlled, and fear when feared, we find a simple gateway out of the complex nature of systems of false power.

The very complexities of the human mind that created the systems of false power, to begin with, help us to unravel what’s kept us confined by them. As we find simplicity in the complexities of our minds, we create the path we, and our systems, require to overcome them.

Underneath every fear we confront and heal, the reflections of false power begin to dissolve. We find and remember genuine power within ourselves. As we recognize our innate ability to honor fear and heal our mechanisms of control, we become lighter. From this lightness, we find that the fierceness, unshakeable presence, and trust of authentic power rises to the surface.

We trust in ourselves a little bit more. We find new versions of safety and protection. In turn, we treat false power with the tenderness it deserves. Akin to a baby put out on the streets by its parents as an infant. When something has only known the fear from which it was born, we can only have compassion for fear upon which it acts.

As more of us stand in the openness, tenderness, and gentle burn of authentic power, false power will not be able to withstand the heat.

*Note that this does not refer to the actual risk of physical safety or sanity. It’s vital to clarify and uphold our basic needs before examining safety and protection from a mental and emotional standpoint.

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