Many Mormons across the belief/orthodoxy spectrum are mourning tonight some very heavy news. I won’t take the time or space here to deconstruct what the church has done–I have confidence many of my friends and colleagues will. I’m simply going to talk from a psychological perspective about how to cope with what is happening, and promote healing.
Marsha Linehan, founder of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, developed a theory called radical acceptance, which she mostly applied to families. Basically, the theory goes that some families and loved ones will do some things that will really hurt you. You can let it get under your skin and ruminate about it, taking action to try to change them–or, you can claim the power you have in the relationship by saying such behavior/actions are simply not acceptable. The second part of “radical acceptance” involves you coming to terms with how even though you don’t have control over what your family decides to do, you can control how you react to them (either with continual engagement and inevitable hurt or with healthy boundaries). In other words, you can take protective measures for your own mental health and vow not to repeat those family patterns yourself as you move on with your life. Therein lies your power, right there for the claiming.
Now is not the time to quietly and secretly weep for what you are witnessing, bottling it in because the alternative is too dangerous within a culture that tends to try to avoid contention. It is important to come to terms with with the fact that an institution has every right to do what they want to do regarding their flock or children–but recognizing that fact does not imply validating the rightness of what is being done. On the contrary, now is the time to speak up, speak out, use your voice and your power to do good to help people realize they aren’t alone in disagreeing with authority, for being hurt too. Lives are at stake given this particular issue they are coming down hard on, I worry about teenage suicides from this new stance. When appropriate, share how you feel in moments of vulnerability with others. In standing by your conviction, you reclaim some of your power, and potentially pass it on to the next generation.
Please speak up, not just for the mental health of those around you, but more especially for your own. Bottling up your emotions will backfire on you, I guarantee it: you will resent the situation more, you will have sleepless nights, and the hurt will not go away. Don’t let that happen. Institutions will do as they please. You as an individual still have power in your voice, in your authentic expression, in owning your story and deciding for yourself what you will or won’t include in it. Morm on your own terms. For yourself. For the next generation. You don’t have to be complicit in anything you feel is out of sync with your moral compass. Let the institution do what it wants (remember radical acceptance), but don’t let it affect you, your community where you live, your children, your friends, or your loved ones without your consent.