A Radically Functional Approach to Gratitude, Fear, and Commitment

Gratitude, Fear, and Commitment




gratitude. =)

gratitude. =) (Photo credit: camerakarrie)




Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling (Photo credit: epSos.de)




Fear is normal and functional. We can be grateful for it. 




Further, if we fear the function of fear, that is quite ironic. That is the functioning of fear being terrified of itself. So, we can also be grateful for the ability to perceive the extreme irony of fearing fear, of that pattern of terrified paranoia or phobia or hysteria or shame.






Now, gratitude is not instead of fear. Gratitude is not to prevent fear or fix it. Gratitude is completely distinct from fear. With or without fear, we can be grateful.





Gratitude (Photo credit: ally213)


Next, fear can lead to commitment. Fear is a state of alertness that shifts the focus of attention. Fear can be paralyzing or compulsive, or it can be invigorating or alarming or disturbing. Fear can precede the arising of an insight as well as of courage.




Fear interrupts a prior pattern of attention. That is the function of fear. We can later determine that an arising of fear was somehow presumptive, like an over-reaction. That may be much better than naive or “under-reactive” or even numbness.




No Shame, No Fear

No Shame, No Fear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




So one stage of functionality is the capacity to fear. The absence of the capacity to fear is an extremely low level of functioning. We could make analogies of the inability to fear as a numbness or blindness or deafness. We could say “they have the eyes to see, yet they do not see. Their eyes are shut. They mouth the repeating of words, but their hearts are frozen, paralyzed, terrified, ashamed.”




To suppress fear or shame people in to shutting down their capacity to experience fear is also rather common. We can be grateful that sometimes social pressures are so extreme that we come to fear the display of fear. We may suppress the signs of fear so that we can avoid dangers that may be attracted by the display of fear. 




We can be grateful for all instances of fearing, even for the fearing of fear. We can be especially grateful that fear can remind us of what we value, that fear can shift our focus to what commitments and values are operating through the fear.



If I fear the loss of something, than I must be committed to preserving it, right? If I fear the arising of some possible development, again there must be some gratitude and commitment and value operating in the background, right?



Scared child

Scared child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




An anti-fear culture is a culture of hysteria and paranoia and shame (of extreme fear). A pro-gratitude culture can embrace fear, including embracing the anti-fear fear and all of the misery and agonizing that goes with it: “how can I prevent people from seeing my fear? How can I inhibit my capacity to be scared or alerted or alarmed? How can I achieve numbness?”



Gratitude can recognize the commitment even in all of that. Gratitude is about recognizing what we value.



Beware of those who would train you to fear gratitude. Their shame is extreme. Their blindness is total.



They may even say “the ego should not exist.” What a funny thing to say! Or, perhaps they were just joking all along…. 😉





gratitude (Photo credit: nathalie booth)



English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)













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