Turning Bad Feelings Into Good

We are not taught to ask:

“What is the good purpose of this… thing/event/happening?”

As a consequence we fail to realise that the good purpose of anger is that it stops us from copping shit.

If it were not for anger we’d get walked all over by those willing to take advantage of our better nature. Anger makes us rise up and take a stand.

It enables us to say: “This is not OK!” or “I’m putting a stop to this!”

But our cultural teaching has been that anger is a bad thing that causes great grief to innocents standing by the wayside.

Whilst that may be true in some cases – it’s much more likely that we abhor the violence that anger looks like it will progress into.

Anger makes us rise up and declare our position.

It has a good and proper place in our lives when used appropriately.

Likewise, sadness is very appropriate when we are experiencing loss. If we don’t grieve for the friend who married and went abroad, the aunty who passed away or the career put on hold by illness or pregnancy – we have hardened too much to the unpredictability and frailty of life.

Sadness admits that we feel diminished and lessened by loss. It reminds us of of the temporary nature of all things. It is the doorway to compassion.

The primary function of fear is to serve as a warning.

It serves to tell us that something is not right and we are in danger.

For survival purposes this emotion runs through the amygdala or ‘primitive’ brain which processes information ten times faster than thinking.

This lightning fast, reactive mechanism will have your heat pounding, lungs powering and sweat pouring long before you know what the particular threat is.

This is the reason you can be filled with dread and terror before you have any idea what’s happening.

Typically, if you have a fear of snakes and someone throws a rubber one at you, you can die of heart attack long before your rational brain turns up with the observation that it’s merely a toy.

It shouldn’t be a big step for you to see that fear does not respond to logic.

For those afraid to speak in public… No amount of rationalising stops the brain numbing panic created by imagining a hostile crowd.

For those afraid of spiders… There isn’t a book that will undo it.

It’s for those and many other reasons that we arrive at the default conclusion…

“Fear is bad and it must be made to go away.”

Anything that promises relief from the un-ending dread, constant terror, endless worry, pronounced anxiety, personal vilification, need to vomit queasiness is bound for a good run. It will be taken up with alacrity.

Mood altering substances (and activities) enter the picture and stay.

Most popular among them is alcohol. (there are hundreds to choose from)

Over counter availability provides a cheap and easy fix because alcohol has the handy characteristic of inhibiting fear.

This explains why drunks fight and karaoke bars have a golden future.

The very person who couldn’t offer two notes of song at a meeting is likely to be the one keeping everyone awake with “Just one more favourite dedicated to my Mum” sung horrendously loudly and seriously off key.

The problem with these consciousness altering drugs (and activities such as workaholic, shopaholic etc) is that they wear off and when they do – the fear turns out to be right there waiting for us like faithful puppy.

Except that the puppy has grown up and is a wolf that devours us and our dreams.

The fear promises to save us.

(“Don’t go out there in front of that crowd. Stay here with me, where it’s safe.”)

But the promise of fear is as empty as the government’s gold stocks.

It actually delivers its opposite.

While we stay down the back of the room avoiding speaking to the crowd and shitting our pants we are experiencing exactly what fear promised to save us from. The terror that someone will look about and select us for the next speech.

At best fear is an imposter masquerading as the master of keeping us safe.

The impression that fear creates within us is that we will not survive the current circumstances. (speaking, heights, spiders…)

Therefore – all irrational fears are actually the fear of death.

If you’ve been wondering why such (logically) small issues can grip you like a vice…

… it’s because they only need to be small to be a trigger.

The trigger (speaking, heights, spiders…) is small – but like any firearm – the trigger can, and will, fire a lethal bullet.

Fear is best resolved when we consider that it (fear) is actually a lack of love.

(Adrenalin junkies love heights big enough to make bungee jumping and parachuting possible)

Just one of the possible processes for handling fear is to ask yourself:

“What is the good purpose of this emotion?” 

For many people – this simple enquiry is enough to rationalise their way to success – leaving the fear behind like a warning sign on the highway.