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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

California Prop 8 Overturned: Celebration, Confusion and Fear

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Aug 6th 2010

facesWhile California proposition 8 being overturned is a victory for moving forward equal rights, there are likely many mixed feelings out there. Clearly, in California which is viewed as a fairly liberal state, the proposition passed earlier on so this news may be bringing up all kinds of feelings depending on people's values and world views. For some it is a moment of celebration, for others it brings up confusion as longstanding paradigms are shifting, while for others it is a source of fear and frustration.

I could be wrong, but if I'm to look back at history in respect to the civil rights movement, I'm going to say that prop 8 will eventually be completely overturned and eventually same-sex marriages will be approved. It just seems to be the momentum that is happening.

So, whether this is a moment of celebration, confusion, or fear, we're all going to have beliefs and feelings that will be affecting us in the coming years.

If the feelings are fear and confusion, it's important to note that these feelings are connected to thoughts, physical sensations and behavior. I've written before of how these constitute our experience.

Beliefs about what is right and wrong are not facts, clearly or the general population would agree on them. If proposition 8 gets overturned, that will be a fact that will trigger and experience that can affect our mental health for better or worse.

The purpose of this post is just bring awareness that it is too easy to fall into a trap of thinking that those who believe different from yourself are your enemies. This is a conscious or unconscious belief that occurs, often times actually created by large groups in order to mobilize the masses. It's often driven from a state of fear and this fear needs to be looked into. Why? Because acting out of fear against an individual or group of individuals inevitably is not healing and only causes greater distress for everyone.

Albert Einstein said:

"A human being is a part of the whole called by us "the universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical illusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

The more we understand this quote on a deep level, the more we'll see into the stress and pain of individuals outside our immediate circles and our minds will break out of rigid belief systems and open up to greater understanding and healing.

Congratulations to those who have fought for their civil rights, this is partly a result of your determined efforts.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

reading, writing, punctuation - Z - Aug 19th 2010

Although I agree with Allen's emphasis on accepting people as they are, I must say it seems he misinterpreted Cathy's comment.  It seems clear she's saying that it's not because the law allows heterosexual individuals to marry that she respects (or does not respect) them.  I think she's saying that for any heterosexual person, her respect (or lack there, as seems possible by her wording) is based upon different factors.  At the same time, Cathy, you seem really angry about other people!  So you don't want people to tell you what your value system should be?  Fine - focus on other things!  They can only flip you off (figuratively) if you are watching their hands.

Check Your Writing Skills - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Aug 19th 2010

Cathy and Everyone,

This is quoted from you, Cathy:

"It is sort of a joke because one earns respect and they will not get respect from me because the law lets them marry - I don't respect heterosexual couples because the law allows them to marry???

Plain and Simple:

You are judgmental and you are using religion to justify it. G-d gave us scriptures but also a mind with which to think, and empathy for us to have caring and concern for others. Where is yours?

Dr. Schwartz

Check Your Reading Skills - Cathy - Aug 19th 2010

Allan:  You need to check on your reading skills.  I did not say that I did not respect people that were homsexuals - I said that being able to marry will not bring them respect just as it does not bring respect to heterosexuals. 

Intolerance - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Aug 12th 2010

To Cathy and all readers,

I strongly object to and disagree with Cathy's characterization of this web site and what I consider to be her intolerance of some people because their life styles are not sanctioned by the Bible or Koran. In fact, Cathy, your comment borders on the worst kind of hatred, and that is stereotyping. To reject an entire group of people, in this case homosexuals, by stating that they do not deserve respect is disgusting, in my opinion.

The goal of this web site is to provide mental health information as up to date as it can be. We are not here to either promote religion nor to reject it.

Dr. Schwartz

The Issue (Does Not Need To Be Posted, But You Need To Know) - Cathy - Aug 12th 2010

I heard a spokesperson for one of the homosexual groups say that if the Supreme Court support this that they will "finally get the respect that they deserve", you see the attitude there.  It is sort of a joke because one earns respect and they will not get respect from me because the law lets them marry - I don't respect heterosexual couples because the law allows them to marry???  Society won't ever put a stamp of approval on this.  You talk about civil rights and what that did and that is funny because although it was a legal act, it did not change the minds of anyone or bring respect to an otherwise unrespected group of people - obviously, if one lives in a certain area of the country and never experiences the country as a whole as I have, they will have a different view.  I have seen the experience of God mocked in a cartoon on this page, blown off totally and most recently, blamed for the guilt and shame that people feel because of the immoral acts that they have committed, well, duh!  Their faith in place should help them not to do this is the first place and the guilt should be a reminder not to do this again.  The articles, being the main entry to the website, make me ashamed to be associated with the website - I would not recommend that someone enter here since this anti-God attitude would surely offend those that I know.  The pedophilies are next as they have already lowered the age to sexual consent in our state to 17 so we now have 35 and 40 year olds legally having sex with the kids at the high school.  And, what about prostitution - it should be legal - 2 consenting adults - they could get them some of that "respect" also and we could have them in on career day.  You win as I know I am a thorn in the side here at the website anyway and I will not support any site that tries to take God away for any reason.

Judiciary overreach - Jim - Aug 9th 2010

I'm sorry, but I think you are rationalizing...

- Implying that majority of California voters are confused or fearful because of their understanding of what defines marriage is irresponsible.

- If the majority is unwilling to accept a new paradigm then there is no new paradigm.

- Prop 8 had nothing to do with civil rights and everything to do with the preservation of the term marriage.

- The Einstein quote is smoke and mirrors dude, and you're deluding yourself.

values - susan - Aug 8th 2010

I agree that everybody's values and moral codes are personal and that everyone has the right to define this for themselves.  

But values can change.  It's one of the beautiful things about being human.  We can learn and grow as we open our minds to new information and to listening to ideas and paradigms that are different than ours.  

I work at a church and a discussion group I am currently leading is around the topic of the politics of the real Jesus.   We've invited people from all faiths to be a part of this and it has been a very interesting group of people.   (I figured since religion itself is a controversial topic, I might as well add politics and get both over with at once :)  )   What I thought would be a series of very heated discussion, which it is from time to time, has actually been a huge learning opportunity for all involved.  When we all take the time to really dive into the culture of the bible and the politics of the time and consider the meaning from those angles, our value system that used to be based on certain verses taken out context and expected to stand alone in present time, is challenged.   I leave every week very energized but feeling like there is not one thing more that will fit in my brain!!

Again, I think it's great to be secure in a value system.  There's safety in that.  But my hope is that it is not so rigid that it closes one's mind to opportunities for growth,  acceptance and most of all understanding of people who think differently. 

In celebration of values - Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. - Aug 6th 2010

Hi Cathy,

The purpose of this post was to create an understanding hat there are many different value systems and that there are going to be many emotions involved here. Anger may be one of them. The best we can do is understand that we are all related and what hurts one person is going to come back to others in some way. Being human is a tricky business and we all connect with different rule books to help us make sense of it.

I for one am not advocating that you change your value system, it's your value system. I'm just bringing up the point that with the eventual overturn of prop 8 (just my guess looking back at our civil rights movement), that there are going to be differing feelings among us humans to work through.

At the end of the day I come back to Albert Einstein's quote and understand that in order for healing to occur we need to understand that we are truly interrelated parts of a greater whole in need of compassion for one another.  



Rigid Belief Systems? - Cathy - Aug 6th 2010

So, what's the problem with a rigid belief system?  Is that not the fiber of who a person is?  I am supposed to change my beliefs so that others will find good about themselves and what they do?  See this is exactly what I am talking about.  I am not going to go against my moral code so someone else will feel better about themselves.  Constantly have this thrown in one's face is the real issue.  Let them be legally married and that is fine and will open up the union to heterosexuals that need/want the financial and legal benefits of such.  But, no one has the right to tell me what I should believe or accept or what is "normal" and that is the constant message.  I don't think that marriage between two people of the same gender will ever be accepted and I don't care how many laws you make on it - it is not the legal but in forcing others to accept it and put a stamp of approval that seems to drive this and make the people angry.  Gee, doesn't anyone get that if you constantly try to push something down someone's throat that they are going to choke and spit it back out.  Obviously, not.  I don't care what they do or if they are allowed to be united but don't insult my value system.

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