As we learn language, we explore a variety of ways to use language. The following ideas can be expressed in a variety of languages:
I am life
I am my experience of life
I am only my own experience of life
My life is only my own experience of life
I am my life
My life is my experience of how other people relate to me
My life is fluctuating and mortal
My life depends on the care and approval of my mother / caregiver
(the narutal infantile dynamic)
My life depends on the approval of _____ (my teacher, my friends, my employer, my spouse, my church, Santa Claus, St. Peter)
It is important to identify what attracts “their” approval (and what attracts disapproval).
I must study how people should be (how I should be) and become only that.
I must know exactly how I should be and then experiment with different methods to become how I should be (and to hide or eliminate how I should not be).
I may eventually notice something remarkable about all of the various people that I have been trying to study and to impress. They also may be fixated on attracting social approval.
A common theme of how people should be is that they should be courageous. More specifically, they should courageously do the things that they should do and courageously be the way that they should be (to attract social approval).
Ironically, sheltering a fixation on social approval will never allow for courage. Things can be labeled courageous by other people, but that all the social approval in the world does not provide the actual direct experience of being courageous.
Like in the story of the Wizard of Oz, a piece of paper does not give someone courage. Ink on paper can record social approval. “Here is my permission that you be courageous, in case you were anxiously waiting for it.”
Courage exists beyond the realm of social approval. Courage is not an act of intentional rebellion against “something that should not be how it is.”
Courage is experiencing fear and then acting anyway- even with great caution (attentiveness). Courage involves allowing fear to be witnessed by others. The fixation on hiding one’s own experience of fear from others is perhaps the most crippling form of social anxiety.
What if the perception by others of any fear of mine is not a primary priority to me? What if I can be merely curious about accusations of fear- as well as be anything else from defensive to dismissive?
Courage is when I am not fixated on being a particular way (as in being perceived by others as being a particular way). However, to be attentive as to how others perceive me may be relevant on occasion.
Any chronic distress that I may have experienced in the past was just an enduring period of temporary social anxiety. I was simply terrified about certain things. I was paranoid about certain things. I was ashamed about certain things.
I have been alive all along, including during episodes of chronic distress or panic. When I condemned others in a panic, I was alive. When I resented others in a panic, I was alive.
When I argued in a panic, I was alive. When I justified my behaviors in a panic, I was alive. When I fantasized about a future utopia in which everything would eventually be how it should already be, I was alive and panicking.
My panic was to temporarily shield myself from the intensity of certain experiences. I said things like “this is how people should be…. and certainly not like that.”
I lacked the maturity and courage to face certain experiences that might have been too disturbing or disruptive or embarrassing. All along, I have been alive.
I am life. Now, I accept the logical possibility that peraps life should be how it is, which includes the entire realm of panic and of language. In a panic, language can be used to identify what should be and what should not be.
For instance, if I worship the ideal that people should never panic, then I would never interpret my own patterns of behavior as panic. In particular, I was only arguing because I was right. I was not panicking or afraid or in distress. However, I have noticed many other people who were arguing out of a desperate panic to preserve the idea that they are right (unlike me).
They were fixated on social approval. They should not be so different from how I say that they should be.
They are ruining my perfect life. My life is totally heavenly except for my victimizers who are not being how they should be and thus are making my perfect life in to hell.
Further, there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it because I worship an Almighty God that is constantly paranoid about the potential interference and disapproval of the devil. God of course would help me since I am being how I should be… except that those other people are interfering by being how they should not be.
For example, one of these evil people once made fun of my logic by asking me “why?” in regard to one of my sacred presumptions about how things should be. Naturally, I gave them a very excellent answer, to which they only responded with the same word again: “why?”
I offered further explanation, getting a bit frustrated by now at how annoying they should not have been. Once again, the child asked me “why?” What is it with the toddlers these days?