Psychology and energy transition

Continued from A New Energy Crisis

We need a new way of thinking about ecological, climate and energy problems. I’m going to suggest that some forms of human psychology and therapy may provide a useful model for that change and its consequences. We are facing several existential crises, or crises of finding understanding and meaningful action. Our worldviews and habits appear to contradict survival These crises are both shared (social) and individual.

We may say that human psychology, like human society, is partly driven by habits and worldviews – In the individual we might call habits and worldviews ‘the ego’. Habit and worldview support each other. Worldview generates habits and reactions to the world, and habits generate worldview. Worldview and habits structure and limit consciousness, producing an unconsciousness of both personal and social realities. Surviving in a society encourages and promulgates worldviews and habits – living an individual life encourages particular habits and worldviews. When those limits of consciousness hit the limits, or complexities, of the world in a painful manner, a person (or society) may:

  • Retreat into neuroticism and denial,
  • Breakdown into chaos,
  • Stubbornly continue in the established ways, only to create worse problems for themselves,
  • Resist change, not participate in constructive change, keep old habits, or
  • Allow the process to break down the ego and be open to allowing something new to emerge in terms of world view and habitual behaviour, which is more appropriate to reality.

Letting something new arise can be painful and depressing, but it seems to be the natural way through existential crises.

With the current civilisational collapse, these four kinds of crisis response are shared by many people who are probably finding their habits and world views are distracting them from the problems, not helping to solve the problems, or leading to misery.

Civilisation may not be able to continue the same forms of life and survive – those forms of life seem to be generating crises which cannot be solved. Society, and our selves, may need to change. Social action may need to repair or replace the sickness that the habits, worldviews and psychologies, neoliberal capitalism appear to generate. Such as

  • The emptiness which is replaced by purchase.
  • The endless quest for growth in possessions which naturalises trying to fill emptiness by purchse.
  • The lack of relationship, other than monetary or use relationships, which allows ecological destruction and contempt for others.
  • Wasting life through wage labour.
  • Non participation in politics and decision making.

Perhaps the goods of capitalism carry harms as well? Perhaps healthy people do not desire the continuing expansion of material wealth after a certain point?

I have previously discussed practices of staying with the felt or logical contradictions, listening openly to one’s inner movements, or to what you have suppressed. Making use of the two (?) minds. Paying attention to dreams and to spontaneously arising symbols, as modes of coming to creatively intuit and understand the world you are in. The Australian Aboriginal practice of Dadirri also seems relevant to relating to nature, yourself and complexity. Acting with climate generosity seems to be a potential way through existential crisis and finding meaning.

As you are continually interpreting the world, you can choose to interpret it the way you might interpret a dream, taking back whatever is distressing to you, into fantasy where it originated, and relating to it, and what it means for you – and seeing it as at least partially coming from yourself.

Symbols may point to another way of living and being. The arising of symbols, images and other ‘sensory analogues’ is the process of something struggling to be born which you resist in yourself. In a similar way we can also look at the world and wonder what new formations are struggling to be born, what they might look like, and what opposes them?

As implied by the old saying (often attributed to Einstein): “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking (mindset) we used when we created them,” we need new thinking and new habits. This involves a beginning in which we consciously note that we do not know the way out. If we did we would be doing it successfully. Everything we think we know, other than change will happen, may be wrong. We may need to listen for that which we don’t know, and that requires acknowledging ignorance and uncertainty.

Through these forms of listening and paying attention, solutions for collective personal problems can arise, you can share them, and test them. Although not everything that appears to be a solution will be, no matter how much you might want it to be.

All of this change process may be reinforced by ‘climate conversations‘ in which you talk with trusted others about feelings about climate and feelings about the political responses we are suffering, and discuss the ‘images’ which arise. The idea is not to get worked up with rage or distress, but to allow feelings, ideas and metaphors to surface. To become aware of processes of which you are currently not aware.

Change is partly social and partly psychological. It requires people to venture into the unknown, but with care…. World views and habits can change and be replaced.

One important thing is to support mainstream efforts to change, but to note they are probably going to be too slow – don’t expect that government or corporations will save you. Hence the climate generosity and supporting organisations which support it.

If you do the work, then not only may you give up the habits and worldviews that are holding you back, you may come to realise that working together at a local level is something you can influence strongly.

You can try to find the best way of setting up your own community energy situation with others. There are myriads of ways that people have attempted to raise money for this, and organise it. Try and explore some advocacy organisations and sites, and ask for help.

That will teach you about problems, and you can then try and change policies, as well as talk to other groups.