Posts Tagged ‘denial

18
Feb
20

Fear, a Personal Analysis of the Concept

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A wise man once said…

Fear is a reluctance to accept and learn from a possibility.

[This shall be a pooling place of thoughts and/or philosophy on the concept(s) of fear.]

Unlike denial, which is an absolute resistance to something being a possibility, fear acknowledges the possibility and responds with a frown of disapproval. If allowed to fester and grow, fear becomes a vile mold or weed that feeds off the energy that keeps its host active; it saps motivation and ambition. Some can dismiss nightmares in a short span of time; others remain troubled by them. And, still others may repeat the nightmare (in what is known as a “recurring nightmare”), similar to deja vu and a difficult reincarnation; some might say this is karma or learning a hard lesson while others would judge it as a reluctance to let go of a figment of the imagination. None of it is real…except to the one who experiences it and, perhaps, those who’ve already had the same or a similar experience.

In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke Skywalker is told Darth Vader is his father, he scowls and squeals as he says this cannot be true. He is genuinely afraid of the possibility he does not want to accept. If Luke was purely brave, ignorant and/or unafraid, he would have kept a straight face and told Darth Vader to go stick his red lightsaber where the sun doesn’t shine. And, it wasn’t “the force” making Luke afraid, either, even if Darth Vader, with his oddly skull-like mask, can be a bit intimidating.

Some fears are common, easier to share and accept as real, fears of the dark, deadly creatures, clowns, heights, cramped spaces, etc. Others are more particular and personal, fears of threatening people we’ve met, fears of dogs after being attacked by one, fears of eating a certain food after someone tricked you with a tainted sample, fears of trusting certain merchants after being duped into buying something, fears of rape after being a victim.

In regards to the last example, a fear of rape may be common, experienced by many, but every individual experiences it a little differently based upon the type of person who assaulted them. Someone first raped by a family member will not be as wary of a stranger while the one raped on the street will not be as concerned about family assaulting them. Thus, one victim may not always be able to “relate” with another; there may be resistance to comforting each other from a shade of difference.

Some say fear is good; they claim you cannot know or feel courage without knowing fear. But, how courageous are they who are programmed to fear a “common enemy” and/or follow the orders of a commander without question? Are all soldiers brave? Are they not also afraid? Are some not more afraid than brave? Are the ones who are more brave than afraid also naive? How many truly know the enemy and the reasons to be afraid and/or brave? [Gee. That’s a lot of questions I just asked.]

Fear is often, not always, broken by experience. You’ll fear cutting yourself less once you’ve cut yourself enough times and learned how to tend the wounds…and you’ll eventually, hopefully, become wise enough to avoid repeating the mistakes.

[Let me just pause right there to mention……I am not talking about “cutter” cutting. I don’t mean people who cut themselves to bleed out the pain they think this act will relieve. That is a different psychological puzzle with traces of will in the mix. A person who cuts him or her self while tackling a task, cutting wood, working with metal, etc., may be cut and learn from the experience. An emotional and troubled “cutter” ignores the lesson in favor of a sensory experience, similar to how some people use sex for pleasure and forget the emotional relationship aspect which often translates into “making love.”]

Similarly, we become less afraid of monsters and “things that go bump in the night” when we walk enough dark corridors, get tired of mysterious sounds in the dark and watch enough scary movies to make us laugh at what some deem horror. There’s a word for that, a word some may have a tough time spelling. Fear loses its strength the more we become numb to it. And, once we are numb enough to the fear, we can and must then rise above it.

I keep thinking back to a TV movie I’ve watched a few times, Merlin. In that movie, the grand wizard-in-training dismisses his enemy by ignoring her, depriving her of the response and attention she demands. He says she will be forgotten when and if people turn away from her. How peaceful and poetic is that justice? He didn’t lay a hand on her. He didn’t fight her. He just walked away from the fight and let “the powers that be” sort everything out. Now, sure, if the gods were cruel, his enemy could have stabbed him in the back or moved the sorceress in front of him in a way that would make her a constant pest to his senses. But, that wasn’t how the story ended. In any case, Merlin’s example sheds light on how we must get past our fears…but only once we’ve conquered them. Without having a firm grip on ourselves and proving a fear no longer can hurt us, it remains with us like a difficult infection or disease.

From personal experience, I’ve been living with a number of fears. Some come with/from a lack of experience; I acknowledge that. Others come from experiences I refuse to repeat, even if a harsh higher power puts me right back in the pit with the troublemakers. Some would say I need to go to the sources of my fears, face them and get over the feelings. But, there are some “sources” facing would only agitate the feelings. And, yet, I am sure facing even those sources would have some positive effect, a thickening of the skin as all repeat experiences should have. [To each their own path to recovery.]

Just imagine having a fear for more than a decade…for more than a few decades…for as long as one has been a legal adult or even longer, in some cases.

As a kid, I had a fear of the dark. It wasn’t so tragic that I needed a light on at all times or a hand to guide me to the bathroom. But, it pecked at me for a while. Then, I stubbed my toes a few times and confronted shadows; I spent more and more time sitting in dark places when I didn’t want to face scary company my parents kept and when I didn’t want to put up with guests who smoked, drank and spoke aggressively. I grew a thick skin that still has a slight fear of what lurks in the dark; I still shudder, occasionally, when I let a possibility enter my mind.

The best remedy I can give for this sort of fear is to accept whatever comes; if you are meant to die from what troubles you in the dark, you will. And, you cannot avoid it. Luckily, I’d hope, anything lurking in the dark won’t have an effect on more important matters like personal long-term finances. So, you might get assaulted and robbed of SOME wealth; but you’ll live to bank another day.

I’ve also been a victim of bullies most of my life. Pick a decade, and I can describe a few pests who have jabbed me with needles of ridicule and intimidation. I can cover one hand with the number I’ve stared down and repelled by my own defiance. The other hand holds those who eluded my seemingly limited influence. I cannot deny the possibility another won’t appear. I must accept this and be prepared for it. I should not be or have to be troubled by the possibility, at my age. But, such is life, and, so far, life keeps throwing me rockheads. [Maybe that’s why I become so fascinated with Geodude in Pokemon games. It’s a sort of therapy for dealing with bullies.]

[This ties a bit into how I feel about “supporting the troops.” I hear countless pleas for donations and support for forces taking it upon themselves to root out “evil,” “enemies,” “disease” and “threats.” But, from my experiences with bullies–and my fair share of ailments–it’s hard for me to buy “bully insurance.” I recall some TV shows of my youth that offered such remedies; victims would be asked by brave bigger kids to pay for the services of a protector. But, what guarantee does this provide? The brave bigger kid is not always around when a bully decides to strike; he cannot be everywhere at once and has his own life to maintain. Just as soldiers have families and friends and duties placed upon them by their governments; they cannot spend all of their time and energy on confronting things that may go boom in the night.

A soldier, in my opinion, is called upon to deal with a warring threat. War calls, and the soldier answers. If there is no war–only a fear of war or violence–the soldier is facing a vague enemy and at risk of paranoia and its ugly cousins. A soldier riddled with fear and doubt is open to sneak attacks and confusion. A soldier with a set goal in mind and the preparation to deal with anything that crosses his/her path is more likely to succeed in his/her mission.

And, as a supporter of said soldier, if the objective of the soldier in need is not clear, donated resources are at risk of waste, just as some buy groceries to satisfy a possible need but then let the food rot as they become involved in other preoccupations.]

Now, I have spilled quite a load from my busy brain. I don’t know how to conclude. So, I will leave things as they lay and let readers do with my notions what they will. Discuss.

06
Feb
17

My Response to C (Carolyn Hax)

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You can find my response to this and other letters, now available for your viewing and opinion, on the designated page

But, while you’re here, have a read.

C, a man–young or old, I don’t know–is being torn apart by his girlfriend and her parents (not literally). It’s a case of “micromanagement” in which every little thing the guy does seems to be wrong and any attempt on his part to counter the accuser(s) is returned with denial.

Carolyn Hax reasonably has little in the way of advice to offer this seemingly dire situation. She does make one good point about filtering what C allows to happen/direct himself. I opt to inquire about a possible missing piece to the story and propose my own strategy for a final effort.

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C, from your account of the situation, I’d be inclined to hit the EJECT button and get as far away from those people as possible. I know those people.

However, a tiny voice inside my head presents a hint of doubt. Why, if you are so happy together, would you even need to suggest ways to improve anything other than in self-defense of this “micromanaging?” Could you be coloring details in your favor? Hearing the situation in her own words would definitely improve comprehension.

You DID say you two have had “many happy times” and are “quite compatible in most fundamental ways.” But…ummm…can you explain those terms? Fundamental ways? What are we talking about here? Your body parts fit together nicely? You can share a bed without discomfort? You have great sex but define this as “functioning well together?” You get along while washing dishes by hand?

If she goes so far as to take action when you’re not around, invading your personal space and attempting to alter your lifestyle choices, then there is no getting around this. You either stand up to her or evacuate.

If every detail is as you describe it, understand that you will not likely ever be friends with her parents and should consult your girlfriend about how much time she intends on spending with them, if any. [Sometimes, a safe distance from a source of negative radiation can ease the tension and reduce the impulse to nag.]

Regardless, I will offer a few desperate strategies to stay “in the fight.”

Strategy #1: Be like water. Maybe you could try letting her demands slide rather than confronting her. The next time she corrects you, just nod or say, “Yep. Sure. You’re right.” And, walk away without giving her the impression she has bothered you. Don’t undo what you did or correct it. Let her do whatever makes her happy. If this begins to leave you short of breath or if she goes one step further, take a deep breath and tell her this ends now.

Strategy #2: Redirect the negatives into positives. Think of a martial artist catching a flying fist and redirecting it away from his/her body, wasting the opponent’s energy away until the desire to fight is gone. Maybe some of her suggestions aren’t so bad. If there’s any chance you could say, “Hey, that could work. Thanks for the tip,” you’re one step closer to resolving the obstruction in your relationship. However, if she’s poked you so many times, already, that you’re nerve endings are sparking or dead, you’ll likely compare this to drinking bleach.

Strategy #3: Confront the bear in the woods. What is that wild animal survival guides say should be confronted by making yourself look big? Maybe you have been a limp noodle so long that people like your girlfriend and her parents make mince meat out of you. Perhaps this upheaval is a wake-up call to “grow a pair” and defend yourself. Do not fence with them. Do not simply retaliate with “their own medicine.” This might be a case in which two wrongs definitely don’t make a right. But, maybe by displaying a backbone and not backing down–similar to what Carolyn said toward the end of her response–you will dazzle the gal (and her parents) with your resolve, and the claws will retract. Be confident in your choices (unless you are just as likely to be guilty of obsession, addiction, etc.). [If you are defending a desire to stack beer cans in a living room, then she has every right to fuss.]

Strategy #4: Play the therapist. Seize an opportunity to discuss her childhood in a comfortable setting. Perhaps you two are reading the newspaper while relaxing in the living room. Inject a question. “Honey? Were your parents exceptionally strict with you?” See where that goes. Follow up with one or more of the following. “Did they expect perfection? Is that why you find fault with the smallest of details? Do you aspire to be like your parents?” Of course, phrasing is touchy at best. Your choice of words will definitely affect impact. And, this could go the wrong way, easily. But, if it does–if she bristles and counters–calmly end the session and either continue sharing space quietly or excuse yourself by saying, “I’ll be (where?). Come talk with me when you’ve calmed yourself down.”

[A fifth strategy that comes to mind would be a scheduled period of separation to see if she softens when confronted with your absence. But, if she really is such a “control freak,” I doubt this would have any impact other than showing your desire to retreat. Even my first strategy is a form of resilience in the line of fire.]




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