The Message of the Polycrisis

This article is the second entry in a two-part series. You can read part one here: Unpacking the Polycrisis

Relating to Current Events – and One Another – During This Time

When we begin to relate to our fear, we bring it into the present – establishing a relationship with it. When we don’t rush to come up with solutions or override what we are each feeling and how others are experiencing the polycrisis, we allow our responses and emotions to come into the present, into now. Then we move out of our tendency for repetition – as collectives and as individuals – because the fear can be grounded in the present moment.

After an earthquake, the path is gone; a new path needs to be created to move forward. The path we imagine and project, that which we’ve learned from the past, doesn’t work anymore. Trying to take it will only drive us against the wall. People who are able to step out of “what is normal,” and those who thrive in crisis situations, can walk the path that truly becomes our future, not a repetition of the past.

Within a crisis, the future comes closer and is more available for us to sense. When we are submerged in trauma triggers, the future is very far away. Something opens up, just as at the beginning of any creation, there is chaos. This is how we move from fear to hope – a hope that is grounded in what is present now, in front of us. Hope is no longer an ethereal, unrealistic drive, but a way to live and embody what is being revealed during the polycrisis. Within this, the new becomes visible. If you are being called into the center of the crisis – to contribute, to offer your gifts, to support the world – you are not being triggered by the past.

Crumbling and Reorganizing of Identity Structures

The massive acceleration of data has transformed the world into a global village. Many traditions, cultural spaces, and nations have come together in new ways that some of the identity structures of the past are either obsolete or need to be transcended into a bigger world space. This process allows for new structures to form an emergent global body – making for a much better fit for our current state of evolution.

The word “information” is a wonderful word – it describes in-form-ation. It brings a form into existence.
It brings a form into existence. Information brings life into form; energy becomes structure. Everything in our human development that we can see and feel is information. We’ve created a structure, a psyche, a body, and societies that reflect our inner state of information. Just as water needs a pipe to flow through, energy creates a structure that can channel it.

Those structures, when integrated, are fluid, open, and adaptable. When there’s an evolutionary need, some of those structures can be rearranged, similar to the way neuroplasticity works, and adapted to new needs of our development. Others need to be transcended and included in the next level of development.

When there is unintegrated or traumatized information that has damaged that combination of structure and energy flow, we see a stagnation or an iced-over structure that can’t change because it has lost its fluidity. Frozen information is not changeable and therefore not easily adaptable. It creates a delay in the movement of our evolutionary process. We experience that as suffering.

Externalization of Trauma Outside of Ourselves

Another symptom of trauma is witnessing the externalization of experience into the outer world. This occurs because we can’t experience life in the areas where we are traumatized. We feel separate from the outer experience, we lose our inner intimacy with the world, and we lose the capacity to resonate with and sense it. When that is lost, the stories we tell ourselves about our lives change. This is an attempt to “make sense” when the real sense or sensing is lost. This new narrative fixates on the pain and projects its unfelt content onto the external world.

The more massive this process is, the more we feel separate from one another, which leads to the actualization of conflicts in which escalation appears to be the only outcome. In this state, life becomes so fixed and the polarization seems so real that we often don’t see any other options. It doesn’t help that all of humanity has been born into this pre-existing condition. We have been born into the polarization of “us and them”, into the externalization of inner, unfelt aspects of ourselves. We have been born into a world of enemies. To dissolve these tendencies, we need to liquefy these structures, the internal architecture holding this rigidity and tension, and then integrate this learning.

Hierarchical “power over” structures throughout the world create a field of harm that is constantly being recreated through these iced-over trauma layers. Because of this fixation on a massive scale, change is painful – it forces us to face the reality of the trauma. This is why change is not happening to begin with. To move forward, we have to de-ice our past, and either integrate the trauma or re-own the transgressions we or our ancestors have committed. Only then can we reopen the flow of information and create a new form of our world.

In many social, aid, or peacemaking efforts, the work is often applied as a patch on top of the frozen wound. That is why many people who work in those domains might feel that it is exhausting, difficult, and depleting. Yes, working against the stream of information that is holding a certain reality in place is hard. That is why we need trauma-informed activism to complement aid work, along with conflict resolution, social work, and psychotherapy. We need collectively trauma-informed global work to de-ice the global stagnations we see in the face of development.

The Message of the Polycrisis

Climate anxiety, depression, and denial are messengers pointing to a process we need to move through, not just problems to get rid of. We can’t keep suppressing or trying to get rid of that process; our societies need to face them. This would lead to necessary ethical learning and post-traumatic growth. If we want to co-create a peaceful and fluid world, these steps are imperative. This process concerns all of us. We urgently need to support one another.

Building community spaces of collective restoration, guided by professional facilitation, is an important collective step forward, which is much of the work we do in the Academy of Inner Science and the Pocket Project, including new group labs focused on healing collective trauma in topic-specific areas. Even if our world is screaming urgently for progress, at least a part of the world needs to slow down and face the residue, face the legacy of our ancestors. We have to de-ice the past if we don’t want to repeat it again and again.

At this point in time, a growing body of research on the symptoms and impacts of individual and collective trauma has proven that we cannot continue to allow the repetition compulsion of trauma. We must develop policies and a structure that supports this work, funded by our governments, which will help societies become more trauma-informed, so we can stop passing on these legacies to the next generations.

By moving in this direction, we will reduce public healthcare costs, crime, societal fragmentation and polarization, and racism. In developing a new and innovative structure, we can each learn to work through and transform these massive collective trauma layers into posttraumatic learning and the emergent, evolutionary growth our societies need to survive and flourish.

Thomas Hübl / Lori Shridhare