January 12, 2012

2012 Survival Kit- Face Your Fears This Year

I won’t mince words.

You will not survive the times ahead if you are still enslaved to fear. Fear is the prison warden of the old, skewed-patriarchal, consumerist system. Fear keeps your mouth shut in the face of blatant injustice and corruption. Fear keeps you showing up to a job that makes you sick on every level. Fear cracks a whip of insecurity over your back so you continue keeping up with the Jonses. Fear keeps you in your ethnic ghetto. Fear traps you in the closet, invisible and insignificant making it easier for others to defame and dehumanize who and what you are.

Ready to be free? Good. Let’s get right into it with some common fears.

Fear Of The Unknown

This is the most primal fear. In fact, Fear Of Death is actually a heart-stopping hybrid of Fear Of The Unknown and Fear of Loss/Change. Can you imagine the first time our ancestors saw the vast ocean? Can you imagine how long it took them to wade into it let alone try to cross it? It is actually not a “fear” at all but a feeling of uncertainty. It is pure trepidation.

When you have no way of knowing what might be coming around the corner, the primal passive reaction is the Fight or Flight Response.

The goal of the lifelong truth-seeker, self-mastery pursuer is to ensure that whether their reaction is Passive or Active it is not Unconscious but Conscious.

Keep this in mind as we explore the other fears. Your goal is responding out of Enlightened Conscious Choice instead of Primal Unconscious Instinct, even when staring down an eviction notice, a parent’s finger pointing out the door, the barrel of a gun, a worthy romantic rival, a wave of riot police, a hostile audience or the crushing metal of a tank.

Choice obliterates Fear because it guides your reaction (Passive or Active) in such a way that you can achieve a brief moment of contemplation (Zen/Surrender/Focus) in order to acquire the knowledge to turn that adrenaline rush of fear into positive fuel to act in your best interests and/or that of others.

Let us look at a 2012-Relevant Example of this fear and how to respond to it:

Example 1
A woman who holds decision making position wakes up to the fact that she is working for a corporation that uses unfair trade, child labor and is doing wrong to the planet, cheating its customers and also making her miserable. It is horrible! But she is afraid that if she quits, she faces an uncertain future.

She can respond either this way...

or this way

As you can see, the latter is preferable. It offers many choices and options to fully exploit the abundance of the Universe. Also there is no longer any separate Passive and Active but a hybrid of the two. When you face Fear like a spiritual warrior you learn: how, when, where to strategically give way or push through, block or punch.

Related To Fear Of The Unknown: Fear of Death, Fear of Change, Fear Of Moving, Fear of Growing Up, Fear of Losing Identity/Status, Fear of Taking On Leadership.

Fear Of Abandonment

This is another primal fear. Our ancestors saw what happened to the wailing baby buffalo abandoned by its mother. We knew if we were suddenly alone, in the wild, we were on the menu ourselves. We are social animals. Community is very important to us and exclusion from the community was preparation for death. It was what we did to former alpha males who were past their prime. They were relegated to the fringes to be picked off by nature.

Wanting to belong and be at the very centre of the community is still a desperate, primal need even though we are no longer at the mercy of the wild and healthy solitary survival is quite possible, even preferable in some cases. Rejection by family, peers, community is so strong a motivating force, it kept people silent during history's most atrocious events. Even today, it makes the teenager within her clique who sees bullying happen, stay silent, secretly hating her lack of courage.

The fear of being rejected by family, peers, community is so strong, it can make people do things on a social level what they know is wrong on an individual level.

I make it a habit of treating with intense suspicion ANY organization that has a problem with individualism and tries to force community contact and their members constantly try to insert themselves into your life, particularly when they try to make you afraid of everyone and everything outside their group. I see it as an attempt to groom people away from self-sufficiency, self-awareness, self-examination and ultimately self-actualization. Any system or organization can become an opiate when this happens.

Let us look at a 2012-Relevant Example of this fear and how to respond to it:

Example 2
A young man realizes he is gay. Despite how he was raised to carry on in his father’s footsteps, be stereotypically macho and get married to a nice woman; despite the culture which focuses on heterosexual love and focuses on homosexuals in a negative or contentious light; despite the religious indoctrination against being gay, he cannot help but be attracted to other men instead of women. He is deathly afraid of losing everyone he ever loved and being a pariah in his community.

He can respond to his fear in either this way...

or this way...

It is incredible how people unthinkingly allow themselves to be herded into all the belief systems and arrangements that have massively failed the vast majority of humankind simply because it is what is “expected” of them. We allow systems to continue at levels beyond what it takes to have products recalled and marketing plans tossed out. We will never sync human development with planetary preservation if we continue to operate this way.

There are people who want us to stay in certain herds and camps because it benefits them, not us.

Developing nations cannot simply unquestioningly adopt the economic and diplomatic systems imposed on them. The Caribbean region in general and Trinidad and Tobago in particular will not survive climate change, food shortages and natural resource depletion if we continue to crave belonging to the North American, consumerist herd.

Fortunately for us, in Trinidad and Tobago, we have more than a few with revolutionary ideas. We just need to bring economic and political clout into the new spaces they create so that real change can happen. We have a significant advantage in this respect over other Caribbean islands where the people have been herded so well into their respective camps based on color, family name and social status and for the most part, remain in their camps out of fear of ridicule and diligently police their fellowmen who step out of the pigeon hole. It is sad because in today’s world a sense of community is just a click away. All the more reason why there is no excuse to remain among people who are not nurturing your soul and/or require you to hide your unique splendor under a basket.

My native island of Trinidad and Tobago has one of the highest numbers of awesome, freaks, free-thinkers, creative mavericks and revolutionaries per capita. If I were to list them all, it would take pages upon pages. But here are just a handful. Clockwise from left: Winston Bailey “The Mighty Shadow", a genius in the art-form of calypso, V.S. Naipaul, a Nobel Laureate, Dwight Yorke, the Fred Astaire of English football, Kevin Baldeosingh, our most outspoken atheist newspaper columnist, Anya Ayoung Chee, Project Runway Winner 2011, Godfrey Sealy our first ever openly gay AIDS activist and theatre actor/director/producer, Yao Ramesar, the most prolific Caribbean filmmaker, Rachel Price, fearless, straight-talking comedienne, Rikki Jai, chutney-soca pioneer and innovator, Keith Smith, beloved, poignant, social and cultural commentator, Meiling, genius fashion designer, 3Canal, Rapso prophets and revolutionaries, Gillian Lucky, fearless, un-closeted legal eagle and former Parliamentarian, Darren Cheewah, tattoo shaman and mas re-inventor, Denise Plummer, the boss-lady of calypso, Peter Minshall, the high priest of high mas (Carnival Masquerade).

I applaud all the people who have taken a good look at their inner-being, compared it to what is being offered within their current camp and made a conscious choice to step outside their camp in search of the important missing aspects, essential to their soul development, even if it means being an outcast temporarily or permanently.

The truth is, right now we need outcasts, free-thinkers, fearless creators, explorers, experimenters. We need freaks! How else are we going to come up with alternatives for unbridled, subsidized capitalism based on unfair-trade, irresponsible consumerism, exploitative labor and planetary destruction? How else are we going to come up with alternatives to oppressive fundamentalist religions? How else are we going to come up with alternatives for the monogamous nuclear family as the only respectable means to enjoy shared property, legal protection, sexual fulfillment and family-life? How else are we going to address in inadequacies of our educational system, judicial system and class inequality?

Related To Fear Of Abandonment: Fear of Being Embarrassed, Fear of Being Unpopular, Fear Of Being Invisible, Fear Of Being Wrong.

Fear Of Pain

This is a recent and unnatural fear.
Pain is something I have written extensively on before. If you do not feel like reading through it just yet, I will sum up the marrow of that previous essay:

Pain is not evil.

Pain is a natural, beneficial signal our bodies and minds were designed to feel to ensure our own self-preservation. It is how we know to STOP! SLOW DOWN! SOMETHING IS BEING POWERFULLY ALTERED! It is the equally valid opposite signal to pleasure which tells us to: PROCEED! ENJOY! SOMETHING IS BEING POWERFULLY REINFORCED!

When you relax, listen to the signal of Pain and surrender to it with conscious understanding that you should PROCEED, ENJOY because although SOMETHING IS BEING POWERFULLY ALTERED, it is for the best, pain can re-signal itself as Pleasure.

You can learn how to develop a high pain threshold or better yet, a highly enlightened pain threshold.It is an experience I have had while taking “cut-ass” from my father, being pierced, tattooed and getting a little freaky in the bedroom. It is an experience avid exercise buffs feel. It is even an experience women giving birth have had. The body releases endorphins to turn pain into pleasure when you accept the pain as something beneficial.

Bliss is actually Pain AND Pleasure firing at the same time. Orgasm involves both pain and pleasure nerve endings.

There was a time when we understood that pain was not in of itself evil but very useful to our survival. We worshipped not just the positive but also the negative aspects of nature because we saw it as part of one essential cycle. We incorporated pain into our various initiation rites. We knew hard toil brought sweet harvest. Calloused fingers produced lovely music. Wanting to live a life of eternal pleasure only was unfathomable to us, perhaps even scary or unnatural. Where was the contrast going to come from? Wouldn’t it be boring?

It was only when we began the class system of relegating the majority of the population to endure an unnatural, imbalanced, unnecessary amount of pain without any purpose, context or contrast while a few enjoyed as much pleasure as possible, that we lost this perspective and became either desensitized or oversensitive. When we selected who will enjoy more pain based on factors other than their own actions, factors like race, gender, culture, origin, then the utopia of eternal pleasure became desirable, particularly to the masses experiencing nothing but pain for no good reason. We turned something that was supposed to be harmonious into ridiculous extremes and both extremes of pleasure and pain are forms of suffering.

This, for eternity, with no contrast, is only appealing to those who live a life of meaningless suffering. To others it would be extremely BORING!

It may not seem like the person enjoying an unnatural amount of pleasure is suffering…not yet. But trust me, something vital is atrophying because of serotonin and dopamine overload and sooner or later a strong pain signal will be needed to establish balance. Negative feedback…you cannot fight it and when an entire society has pleasure overload, Mother Nature Herself will provide the negative feedback.

Fear of Pain is actually a hybrid fear made all the more intense by our current economic system and development as a species. We no longer have to do things the hard way. Water comes to us. Meat is nicely cut, cleaned and packaged for us in a refrigerated store. We can take a pill and lose weight instead of exercising and having to deal with muscular pain and stinky sweat.

Learning to face pain still is an essential rite of passage for many indigenous tribes still in existence around the world.

But all of it comes at a cost. Remember BALANCE.

There was wisdom in our ancestors’ take on pain and all bitter, smelly, gross, unpleasant aspects of human existence. You might as well deal with it and learn how to work with it. You cannot run from it. You cannot sanitize it, not completely. You need a little hardship, a little toil, a little inconvenience for contrast and most of all BALANCE. If you had to kill and gut your own chickens, do you really think you would eat so much KFC and develop clogged arteries and man boobs? If you had to collect and transport your own water, do you really think you would allow WASA to waste so much of it?

Let us look at a 2012-Relevant Example of this fear and how to respond to it:

Example 3
A young woman wants to be healthy, fit and beautiful but hates the discomfort, inconvenience, sacrifice involved in doing it the holistic way.

She can either take this approach...

Or this one...

The threat of pain, discomfort, delay and inconvenience drives the consumerist economy. How many products to make life easier do we need? Was the pain, discomfort, delay and inconvenience really such a bad thing if it was making us slow down, do things with more thought, care, love? Worst of all, it stops us dead in our tracks when we want to do the right thing.

Related Fears: Fear of Discomfort, Fear of Work, Fear of Delay, Fear of Inconvenience, Fear of Loss, Fear of Punishment/Consequences.

Practical Tools To Fight Fear

This is a Survival Kit after-all, so this discourse would be incomplete if I left you without some weapons to put into use right away. Feel free to copy, enlarge, print and share.

Have you noticed that in tackling Fear, the one major, recurring Spiritual/Intellectual Gap is Knowledge/Context and Mastery. Our greatest ally in surviving the rapidly changing world ahead is Knowledge/Context and Mastery. From this, everything else will naturally flow and fall into place. It is no wonder that the war on Knowledge, Context and Mastery has escalated in the last decade or so. Blatant falsehoods are being touted as facts even in the information age. History is being re-written, forgotten, sanitized to allow past atrocities to return. More and more products and services are being introduced to make us lazier, complacent and even more pleasure-addicted.

Beware those who wish to restrict your access to as much knowledge as you desire. Beware those who wish to erase, twist or sanitize history so we do not learn from its context. Beware those who insist you are weak, helpless, lost, fallen without their particular system, group, product, service and want to discourage you from independently questioning, seeking inner strength and capability.

That is about the only warning or “doom and gloom” you will hear from me about 2012. Apart from that, I truly believe it will be an eventful time in the best possible way for many of us who are learning how to become comfortable with growing pains and be productive, happy, peaceable in spite of them.

May 2012 and all the years to come sing for you!

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