Posts Tagged 'half the world'

Fear of Fear

fear of fearMost of the things we avoid are avoided because we’re afraid of being afraid.

The negative outcomes that could actually occur due to speaking up in class, caring about our work product, interacting with the boss – there’s not a lot of measurable risk. But the fear… the fear can be debilitating, or at the very least, distasteful. So it’s easier to just avoid it altogether. We avoid the feeling of fear.

On the other hand, artists and leaders seek out that feeling. They push themselves to the edge, to the place where the fear lives. By feeling it, by exposing themselves to the resistance, they become more alive and do work that they’re most proud of.

It usually looks higher from up there. When we find ourselves on the edge of a precipice, looking down at the depths of the chasm below, it’s easy to think that our plan is far too risky, or our behavior too weird.

The funny thing about perspective is that most bystanders don’t see you standing on a precipice at all. They see someone doing something a little risky, or even questionable, but by no means off-the-grid nuts. You’re far more likely to go not-far-enough than you are to go too far, especially if you tend to find yourself worrying over what others think.

Internal monologue amplifies personal drama. To the outsider, neither exists. That’s why our ledge-walking rarely attracts a crowd. What’s in your head is real to you, no doubt about it, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can see the resistance you are battling. And most don’t care about it.

How deep is the water? If it’s over your head, does it really matter?

At some point, when the stakes are high enough, you will swim. And when you swim, who cares how deep the water is?

How much does it cost you to avoid the feeling of risk? Not actual risk, but the feeling that you’re at risk? What are you missing out on? Feeling risk is very different than actually putting yourself at risk. Over time, we’ve created a cultural taboo about feeling certain kinds of risk, and all that insulation from what the real world requires is getting quite expensive. It’s easy to pretend that indulging in the avoidance of the feeling of risk is free and unavoidable. It’s neither.

The fear doesn’t care, either way. The choice is to spend our time avoiding that fear or embracing it.

 

Blind Spot

selfreflection3.erase

Aside from our other senses, we are temporarily blind to the half of the world located behind our head at any given moment. Some call that our blind spot. However, it’s not completely blind because we’re aware of the fact that we aren’t seeing it, not to mention the fact that the blindness is usually pretty easy to remedy when we need to, though it can be dangerous if we’re not paying attention.

Contrast that with our actual blind spot. Ironically the very place where the eye connects to the brain (via the optic nerve) is an area on our retina where we do not see – the blind spot. We do not notice it, and are thus unaware of it, because our brain fills the gap by extrapolating the likely content from the surroundings. We make it up. Fortunately this defect in our vision is small enough that it rarely causes a problem.

Combine those two characteristics and there would be significant issues. Imagine large areas of your vision that appear to be functioning fine, but are in fact being made up by your brain. We would call that being delusional (or one of a few other maladies).

Yet we are, in fact, delusional to some extent. We roll through life with our programming while being largely unaware that we’re thinking and acting according to it rather than objectively processing all the input we receive. These blind spots in our awareness – things we haven’t been programmed to be sensitive to – are all around waiting to trip us up. Most of the time the stumbles are minor, however, on occasion we can go pretty far astray and not be aware of it. We can hit the wall and crash, or we can do more subtle damage that we don’t see for a while, or we get what appears to us as having been randomly blindsided.

There is no solution to this in the moment. No easy shortcut to improve your odds beyond simply acquiring more wisdom as you experience more of life. You must start by accepting that what you see and believe is not an objective reality. It is simply what your brain has selectively chosen to make you conscious of. The best you can do is educate yourself and work at being informed and aware. Work at empathy by forcing yourself to be sensitive to others. Prepare within reason for mishaps so you can recover. There is a discipline to managing the risk, but in the end it’s impossible to eliminate it all. Being prepared includes the perspective of knowing we can’t be completely prepared. We must still be willing to act. To risk that we may be stepping into something that isn’t as it appears. Once we recognize how often this actually happens in our lives it could help us reconcile the fear we have when we do see the potential pitfalls. The risks our limbic system chooses to put in front of us are often as overblown as the risks we don’t see that are glossed over. Even the seemingly sure things had them. We just weren’t aware of it.

Go | Stop

GoStopIt’s a paradox of our lives that while technology is constantly invented that saves us time, we use that time to do more and more things, and so our lives are more fast and furious than ever.

Recently as I sat on the porch reading an actual book I felt the call of the phone. What e-mail, texts, Facebook/Instagram/Twitter posts have gone by? Was the book not enough? Was I afraid I was going to miss something important?

It doesn’t have to be this way…

It’s only when you stop moving that you can begin to see what really moved you. Yes, movement is important to acquire experience and get things done, not to mention its value as a mere distraction. But don’t forsake the value of simple stillness. Leaving your mind open to think and process. Only in stillness you can deepen the experience of life, to replay it and try to make sense of it.

People are getting dizzy from movement, and we often find that our biggest luxury comes when we’re sitting still. Slowing down without simply being lazy is a conscious choice. To appreciate life & living now and here. It may sound easy, but for many of us it’s difficult to do, and it’s even risky for those of us whose wandering minds pose problems. It’s more than the commonly hyperbolic statements such as, slow down, or stop and smell the roses, or take time to enjoy the moment. Those are valid and often true, but…

You must stop. Go when you need to, but stop at prescribed times. Just stop. Let your mind take over. Let your mind wander (wonder). So much of our life takes place inside our heads — in memory or imagination or expectation or just illusion — that if we want to change our lives, we might best start by changing our minds.

But the mind is hard to control. If it’s not being productive, and the thoughts are dragging you down, then go. Try doing something to reset things. Come back to the stillness later and try again.

Half the World

Half the world wants to be the other half.

Think versus Do

The sometimes crippling weight of leading versus the powerlessness of following

The desire for popularity versus the difficulty navigating the superficial

The boredom of this career versus the risk of that one

The lack of recognition of the engineer versus the lack of respect of the salesman

The danger and chaos of the city versus the boredom and closed mindedness of the country

The loneliness of the wallflower versus the emptiness of the extrovert

The burden of being self-aware versus the random and frustrating outcomes for the clueless

Here versus There

We struggle because in most cases we got “here” in part through a series of semi-random occurrences: luck, or fate if you believe in that. Even the things we thought through and decided to do or change were based on limited information. We’re very well aware of what OUR difficulties are. We don’t know what it’s really like to live in that alternate universe of being the other way. We tease ourselves with little fantasies about it. We sometimes even take actions to try it out. We rarely commit. We can act in another capacity for a time, but we are who we are, and most of us who are “sane” believe we aren’t going to fundamentally change that.

Better get on with it and be.



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