Inspiration is innate. We do not need to learn it. However, we can be trained to focus away from what inspires us. We may be distracted.
We may notice that all around us are powerful social influences. Certain people and groups have guided our attention and our behavior.
In our families, schools, and churches, we may be trained in various forms of idealism. Idealism means a specific model or pattern of how to relate.
Idealism organizes what we expect, what we respect, what we reject, what we value, and how exactly we respond to whatever we first notice and then value. So, we have all been exposed to these programs. The programs organize our lives, governing our experience. They systematically direct our values and our interpretations. They govern what we display, including what we may pretend to be.
The importance of idealism
Why is all of this important? Idealism can lead to us repressing some experiences and even rejecting them completely. We may numb ourselves to huge ranges of our own experience. What if instead we were suddenly respectful of all of our experiences?
Note that idealism has already trained us in what to respect as well as in what not to respect (or even to disrespect or reject). We respect certain things more than others. For instance, which do you respect more: the current laws where you live now or the laws that used to be dominant a few thousand years ago in a location far away from you? Do you give more respect to your native language or to a language which is foreign to you and totally incomprehensible?
“Idiota identificate idioma idiotica.” (To the one who is ignorant, everything unfamiliar will be labeled nonsense. What a fool in the dark does not perceive or comprehend, they may even claim cannot exist. They close their eyes to relax, to cope with their fear of the dark and what horrors may be in it.)
A new respect
So, here are two realms that we could respect now (which we may not have been respecting already). First, we could respect the systems which have influenced our experiences. Second, we could respect all of our own experiences which we have been rejecting (perhaps even some experiences that we have been rejecting so completely that we might be totally ignorant of them).
Once we recognize that there are systems that have been influencing us, we could respect the various systems which have influenced our experiences. We can begin to notice the extent of their influence.
Have you ever noticed people investing huge amounts of time and energy in to ferociously competing with each other over which idealism is ideal, glorifying one ideal and condemning all the rest? It can be exhausting just to witness.
What if we respect all systematic programming of idealism as fundamentally similar? What if we respect the programming of a variety of ideals? The diversity of conflicting idealisms can lead to masses of people polarizing in to opposing concentrations of fanaticism. These opposing factions of idealism may erupt in to animosity, rivalries, feuds, and wars.
All of those behaviors correspond to the experience of feeling threatened, as in insecure, as in afraid. Of all experiences that are systematically repressed and condemned, the condemnation of fear may be the most common.
Of course, condemning itself is a frightened behavior. The condemning of condemnation is the logical extreme of irony (and hypocrisy).
English: Managing emotions – Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Respecting the full range of emotions
We can categorize human emotions in to two basic groups: emotions of attraction and of repulsion. Further, we can consider a spectrum of inward and outward variations, like emotions of withdrawing or retreating as distinct from combative emotions of aggressively repelling. These “fight or flight” responses are both frightened reactions.
Among the emotions of attraction, there are receptive or inviting emotions like gratitude, delight, and enthusiasm, but also more assertive or aggressive emotions of attraction like inspiration, lust and greed. Some emotions are considered more masculine or more feminine, as well as more encouraged or discouraged.
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Notice that frustration is one of the most conflicted of emotions. There is an interest in a possible outcome, then a sense that the possibility has been frustrated. A particular method had been identified in the hope of fulfilling the interest. However, after investing energy in to that method, the results have not been fulfilling but disappointing.
There is an interest, a hope in a method, an investment in to that method, and then a disappointment. But there is more to frustration.
Frustration is not mere disappointment. In the case of mere disappointment, there may still be a sense of calm and curiosity. If the initial interest is still a priority, then the curiosity will result in the exploring of other methods besides the method that was disappointing.
Frustration implies not only disappointment, but fear. There is a fear of failure present- a recognition that the interest might not be fulfilled. However, even with the disappointment and fear, there is also a distress. That distress is the conflict of being afraid and disappointed, but also being afraid to admit being afraid and disappointed.
When someone is frustrated, they may say things like “I wish this was working, but it clearly is not, and yet it really SHOULD!?!?” There is an element of confusion in frustration that is not present in disappointment.
What could be the source of the confusion that frustrates us? Could we be confused because of respecting an ideal which we have been trained to value and defend, but which is clearly inconsistent with our own direct experience?
“Idiota identificator omniscient, humiliati!” (The one who is ignorant and claims to know everything, they will be humbled.)
It can be stressful to pretend that an ideal is realistic when here is extensive evidence contradicting a particular presumption or ideal. Such a pretense can lead to intense frustration.
“How do I advance my own interest without discarding an old model which I do not want to admit might be obsolete? I could keep trying what is obviously not working! I could complain loudly and hope that someone cares enough to come and rescue me from my confusion and distress. I could have a tantrum of frustration!”
“I should NOT be frustrated! It is not that my ideals are idealistic. My ideals are self-evident, which is why I desperately avoid reviewing the original logical process which led to the forming of my sacred, self-evident ideals.”
“So, I will viciously ridicule or even physically attack anyone who questions my ideals. I will blame them for my frustration. I will have a tantrum, and then another, and then finally some more tantrums, all along blaming other people for annoying me with their attention and their unfamiliar perspectives, which they should have kept to themselves, especially if I directly asked them to share. They deserve to be the targets of my abusive tantrums of self-righteous, justified frustration.”
“By the way, I am NOT frustrated. I am not in distress. I am not in hell. I’m a very happy person! I was always totally happy until THOSE people came along and frustrated ME by witnessing the disappointment that I desperately am afraid of admitting is present.”
“Things should not be how they are. Things should fit my sacred idealism. I do not feel guilty for questioning my ideals because they are self-evident and I do not doubt them at all. In fact, I resent anyone who suggests that I might have ideals clouding my perception.”
“My ideals are the very best ideals in the history of idealism. I might admit that everyone else says the same thing, too, but they only say that because all of them are naively sincere, while I am clearly heroic in my loyalty to my ideals which are definitely not obsolete now because they never will be. My ideals are eternal. Everyone else’s ideals (unless they agree with mine, of course) are temporary and passing and idealistic. My ideals are the best. That is why I am always so happy and never ever frustrated, you know, like all of those other people who are so negative that they condemn contempt and so on. Don’t you just hate people like that? They are just SO dramatic, right? Plus, they could really use some more sincerity. By the way, naïvely sincere loyalty is in no way connected to frustration. So, in conclusion, because I do not deserve to be frustrated and because I should not ever be frustrated, therefore I am not now and never have been. Seriously, do NOT question me on this!”
Respecting terrified ill will
There are many social institutions designed to measure the spectrum of mental health or mental illness in a governed population. Those who demonstrate certain remarkable behaviors are likely to be identified and regulated (such as medicating them to subdue them or immobilize them).
I consider many emotions to be behaviors. Agonizing is an activity. Frustration also requires activity to escalate the original disappointment in to a full-blown tantrum of distress.
When we think of emotions like delight or rage, we can also think of facial expressions and physical gestures. However, all of those may be the results of a more subtle form of behavior: linguistic behavior.
English: Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Recall that social institutions train us in what to value, what to repress, and what to pretend. We are trained in how to relate to our experiences in regard to how we label sensations and organize them in to perceptions.
What portion of reality do we perceive? A tiny fraction. With all of the sensations available to us, we filter out the vast majority of them and then focus on certain details as “important” and then organize those important details in to our experience.
How does one shift from the experience of frustration to maturity? First, one must admit to having had the experience of frustration, plus consider how it could be important. Without recognizing the importance of frustration, there would be no interest in learning from the process of frustration. There would be no distressed discontent to drive us toward maturity.
Maturity involves being perceptive of frustration and of idealism. The more precisely and quickly that I can identify frustration and idealism (in others but also in myself), then the more mature I am.
What is the distance between me and inspiration? There is no distance. Frustration arises only because there is an underlying inspiration which has been frustrated.
What has frustrated our inspiration? Idealism about how we should be and how we should not be serve the function of repressing certain inspirations and encouraging others.
Respecting social institutions
Will there ever be a social institution which does not repress certain inspirations and promote others? Will there ever be a social institution that does not bias people and train them in what to respect, what to reject, what to pretend, and so on?
What if the sole purpose of social institutions was to influence or govern human experience? What if my attention has been influenced? What if my behavior has been influenced?
Is this something to hide? Is this something to be ashamed of? Is this something to pretend is impossible because it conflicts with a social ideal that I may have been worshiping in idolatry?
Those who are open to frustration and grief (as in disappointment) have a remarkable opportunity. Because they are not terrified and ashamed of fear, frustration and grief (as in disappointment), they have a unique perceptiveness and clarity.
They are like people who are beginning to open their eyes as they live amongst a culture whose eyes are closed. Their advantage over the masses may be enormous. They may perceive things sooner and much more precisely than the masses.
They may accurately assess opportunity and danger, rather than rejecting all perceptions of danger in a hysterical, paranoid, new age panic of “anti-fear condemnation.” They embrace balance, rather than pretend that there is such a thing as a one-sided piece of paper. (In fact, they simply reject the idea that there SHOULD be such a thing as a one-sided piece of paper.)
Further, they may value the contrary opinions of others, at least occasionally. They may value interaction with others who are mature and respectful and insightful. They may seek out such interaction and divest from what is not working well in order to explore more attractive opportunities.
What is your interest in such conversations? What frustrations are you willing to release? What threatening idealisms are you willing to stop condemning, if only for a moment so you can pause to close your eyes and relax?