I used to treat content warnings as much-appreciated stop signs.
My body and mind are quite sensitive, so these warnings allowed me to navigate social media with fewer trauma activations.
Anytime I saw ‘cw’ on social media I breathed a sigh of relief and scrolled on.
Over time I started to notice that my choice to treat them like a stop sign – rather than a warning sign – allowed me to stay in a pattern of not facing off with those body responses. They allowed me to stagnate as I started to understand myself by way of my activation towards certain subjects.
“Oh, that’s just the way I am.”
I imagine that this is the basis for the argument against content warnings: that we are coddling each others minds and catering to avoidance.
Advocates against content warnings might reference cognitive behavioural therapies such as systematic desensitization, prolonged exposure therapy, or cognitive processing therapy (CPT), all of which are types of exposure therapy that became popular treatments for PTSD in the 1980’s and 90’s.
And in truth, this type of identification with experience is not conducive to The One Person Revolution. Because it justifies me not moving forward in my practice. It justifies a lack of transformation.
So Yoga ASKS me – and you – to look again. Instead of organizing your mental content according to past experiences, the INVITATION is to take responsibility for sorting your mental content (YS I.2-.4) in a way that is devoted to you (and all people) being free from the effects of past choices, and able to move forward owning your values (YS II.1).
What is yoga really? Read more about it here
In the Yoga Sūtra, Patañjali gives you a CHOICE to take self-responsibility.
And this is the key.
This is why Yoga – and The One Person Revolution – is a trauma-sensitive way of being.
A common denominator of traumatic experiences is a sense of powerlessness. Choice, when taken away, can lead to increased trauma.
Choice, when given, is empowering.
Click here to read more about trauma theory
So this is my argument for content warnings: it gives people choice.
And yes, perhaps people – like me – will treat them as stop signs rather than warning signs. And that is their choice.
Perhaps people – like me – will continue to evolve in their practice, notice this pattern, and choose differently going forward. That is also their choice.
And this is what I have been sharing about over the last few days! Content warnings are a practice of interrupting harm in order to create space for you and others to practice.
In my case, other people using content warnings interrupted the harm that my body was experiencing, creating space for my practice. And in that space I noticed something that has helped me to progress on my revolutionary journey!
For the record, I still very rarely – if ever – engage with content that is beyond a content warning which I know will activate my nervous system. I have no need for an Instagram or Facebook feed to be my form of exposure therapy.
The difference now is that I treat content warnings as much-appreciated warning signs and choice points, rather than stop signs. I am not coddling my mind or catering to avoidance; I am taking the opportunity to make an empowered decision, understanding in each moment what best serves my continued (r)evolution.
What do you think? What has been your experience with content warnings?
Sending you love,