We Must Also Build Up: How to Stay Focused on the Good

Sarah McDugal
May 31, 2022

We cannot only tear down. We must also build up.

In this tidal wave of debridement, where so many are collectively washing away the polluted, gangrenous teachings and the subconscious subcultural assumptions about entitlement, relationships, beliefs, power, the character of God… everything… we absolutely MUST cultivate skills of critical analysis and thinking. 

It can be easy to trade one “leader” for another, to replace one abusive set of voices in your past, for powerfully persuasive and life-giving new ones. There is a sense in which the voices of advocates do bring freedom and hope to those drowning under diabolical messages that kept you enslaved to exploitation. 

But you cannot stay there, settling into a new comfort zone where you have merely traded old voices for new ones. Doing so risks placing blind trust in those who have spoken truth to your darkness, but then feeling betrayed all over again when you discover they are humans with flaws. 

What must change is not merely your source of leadership but also your relationship to leadership overall. If you want to be set free from controlling, exploitative, destructive dynamics, you must take on the challenge of thinking for yourself. 

Do the research. 
Read the scientific studies. 
Explore scripture for yourself. 

Do whatever it takes to come to your OWN conclusions, without parroting what others preach. Search it out for yourself. Accept no one’s word without asking questions. 

Then adapt and recalibrate as you continue to grow. Do not stay static and stagnant in your new belief structure, or you will likely end up in a repeat cycle of the past. 

Glean what is healing and useful from those who share likeminded goals. Don’t expect or demand exact alignment with everyone on everything, but don’t assume that if you view things somewhat differently than others, that you can’t still work together and support each other. What matters most is what lies underneath — shared mindset, aligned goals, and a tender, genuine heart of service.

As you discerningly allow voices to speak into your healing journey, carefully consider the attitude and spirit that accompanies whatever truths they appear to speak. Is it one of securely rooted dignity? Or is it vitriolic and abrasive?

Critically assess the tone of advocates and speakers you admire, not only for factual accuracy and evidence-based resources, but also for compassionate kindness. 

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Does this leader show the ability to critically think and analyze from multiple angles, in order to take in all possible aspects of the data? 

  • Does this leader show a willingness to consider others’ valid points of view, and hear others’ trauma that does not mirror their own? 

  • Does this leader show the ability to interact on trauma topics without getting triggered and rigid and mistreating others in the process?

  • Does this leader focus on creating and developing content or material that uplifts, heals, and contributes to the betterment of their listeners? Or do they appear to gain notoriety by shredding other humans? 

  • Does this leader show a constant pattern of learning and growth and recalibration and humility as they continue learning? Or do they refuse to acknowledge data, science, and scripture that would make them continually keep growing?

It is crucial to dismantle destructive ideas and dangerous systems. Dismantling and debridement are NEEDED and vital pursuits. Teaching and modeling critical analysis so that survivors are better equipped to each make thoughtfully discerning decisions for themselves is KEY. 

But the spirit in which we pursue these actions is no less important than the work itself. Maintaining a healthy sense of teachable self-doubt, compassionate dignity, and kindness to others is a non-negotiable. Sadly some, even in the advocacy world, exist to devour others and then gleefully examine the blood spatter. 

When you see leaders who speak what appear to be the right words, but whose platforms focus a majority of content on tearing other individuals down (as opposed to deconstructing dangerous ideas with kindness and dignity), then you can expect the outcome to be wolfish. Those with this mindset tend to gather a cluster of similarly bitter, rigid, cannibalistic people around them, and form their own abusive pack — even while claiming to put an end to abuse. 

These destructive mindsets create insurmountable obstacles to longterm healing, wholeness, happiness, and true post-trauma growth.

As you move along your exodus journey out of abuse and into fearless, free, WILD healing and connection — keep these principles in mind:

  1. Do not merely substitute old leaders with new ones on a pedestal of power in your life.

  2. Seek to cultivate habits of critical, thoughtful analysis toward all things. 

  3. Stand on your own two feet, and glean what is good from many sources without enmeshing your sense of identity in any one source. 

  4. Assess the content AND the spirit in which any leader communicates — looking for humility and kindness — and accept nothing less. 

We cannot only tear down. 
We must also build up.

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