Fear, anger, courage, and contentment

“I am angry because someone betrayed me and it really hurt!”

A great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico ...

A great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico is catching a bait of a tuna. Please note, we did not try to catch a shark. We did try to bring sharks closer to the cages. No shark was hurt. The picture is a digital copy of my old film picture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The hurt that you refer to is just a label. In the past, maybe I expected something and then complained when I did not get it, but was I physically hurt by that? Or, was I just scared and humiliated?

In another past, maybe I was afraid about something and I may have anticipated physical hurt (a spanking, severe abuse by a group of bullies, etc). However, the muscular contraction of the fear may be the only actually current pain. They may be no other pain besides the pain of maintaining the muscular tension.

Or, the muscular contraction may be pinching off an old nerve signal of “hurt.” The chemical signal may still be there waiting for the blocked pathway to open so that the electrical signal of the nerves can reach the brain. In that case, relaxing may actually hurt- whether for an instant or an hour- or maybe there is an injured ankle and if I stop blocking the nerve signal but keep using the ankle, then I will keep getting the signal that is trying to tell my brain “your ankle may be injured, so pay attention!”

Maybe my “heart has been aching” (as in a muscular contraction in the chest). Maybe the ache is actually just from maintaining the muscular tension though, not really from some old event (“trauma”). Maybe it takes energy to PRODUCE the pain and even INCREASE the pain, nurturing it or worshiping it with resentment or agonizing or whatever. Maybe simply not giving “it” attention at all will automatically lead to it disappearing.

This reminds of a question like “how do I stop walking?” You stop walking by not walking. You imagine standing with so much attention that suddenly you notice yourself standing. Focusing on walking will never stop walking.

Likewise, how do we stop agonizing? Agonizing is a behavior. We stop by not doing it. We stop by not focusing on it. We stop by doing absolutely anything else.

However, it can be useful sometimes to notice the frightened, desperate pattern of agonizing. We might even analyze it and play with it, like brushing through hair can untangle the hair.

But there is a difference between exploring the process of agonizing itself and exploring some particular trigger of fear. If focusing on something that consistently frightens me is somehow desirable, than I could invest energy in maintaining some old fear, avoiding courage, pretending that I cannot do what perhaps I simply am afraid of trying, because if I try, I might fail. I might need to learn or ask for help. Even worse, I might succeed.

126 Infantry/Armor/Cavalry Coat of Arms

126 Infantry/Armor/Cavalry Coat of Arms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do people fear more than anything else? Courage is a reasonable answer. Courage can be very dangerous, by the way.

Other popular answers are that people fear their own power. That is basically the same answer. Again, people’s fearing of their own power may be WISE… because the exercise of power can be risky. However, there may occasionally be times when exercising power courageously is worth the risk. In fact, there may often be times when exercising power, even when one is not very skilled in using it elegantly, is relevant. And so I give the answer courage.

Picture taken at Georgia Aquarium, pictured is...

Picture taken at Georgia Aquarium, pictured is one of the two resident male whale sharks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone has power. It may be wise to fear using it, again like when faced with a tyrant or bully or raging ex-wife or a shark.

Yes, I could attack the shark. It just might be better not to dive in and attack a shark. It might be better to attack it wisely. Be afraid of it. Then pick up the speargun. Aim it and fire. Yes, it may not hit the shark and if it does not hit solidly, the spear may not even stop the shark. How many sharks are there? How many spears?

Maybe you can pray that the shark (or sharks) swim away and leave you and your family safe. but many times, life is not like that anyway. There is no isolated threat, like a bunch of sharks or a single bully.

Life is a series of challenges and risks. If your small child is naive and wants to pet the sharks, you may interrupt the child’s eagerness with an angry “no!”

The vast majority of civilized people are so terrified that they do not want anyone to know that they are terrified. They are “tamed.” That is just a fact. In mobs, the repressed hysteria of “civilized people” can get extremely violent and dangerous to innocent bystanders- rather like a bunch of bloodthirsty sharks.

Profiles in Courage book cover

Profiles in Courage book cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Society has systems for taming the herds of “sheeple.” Terror is very important in that process.

Also important can be indoctrinating the masses with who to blame (and for what). What enemy should we blindly condemn and target with our repressed rage? The answers are on TV, in public school indoctrination programs, and in churches.

One thing we cannot get through anger is contentment (inner peace). We must challenge the guardian of hell (whether that is Satan or Cerberus, a mythological dog with 3 heads), which is the archetype of our own deepest fear.

We must be courageous. We may not be very good at it yet. So what?

Français : Courage

Français : Courage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, contentment requires courage. It requires humility. I question the naive arrogance of my hatreds and resentments and hurts and betrayals (mom lied about Santa, etc etc etc). That questioning is courageous.
Rage is terrified, not courageous. Rage is typically prone to foolishness (with naive sincerity of course).

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