On love and fear

So, in my last post I was saying something about how the pain of interaction with people comes from love of them – because loving interaction is thwarted. But I wasn’t happy with what I was thinking and writing – for one thing, some people cause us grief and there is absolutely no love behind it at all – it’s just antagonism through and through. Anyway, I had more of a think on it and came up with a logical (I think so, anyway) map of how it might play out.

First of all, we have a psychic (mind) reaction to everything we encounter, including people. That’s how it all starts.

Thoughts (memories) come with emotional energy that ranges between barely noticeable to intense.

Emotions are the mind’s messaging system; they instruct the body how to act (towards or away). They are thought made into matter.

The more intense our emotions, the more chemicals are released in our bodies to compel our body to act more urgently.

In our reactions to thoughts about the people we encounter, emotions that are experienced as pleasant we call love (safe: move towards) and unpleasant ones as fear (dangerous: move away from).

Sometimes the two go together, depending on our memories of intimate encounters with others.

So, I’m thinking now that fear (aka pain) doesn’t come from love, as I said previously, but that love and fear / pain are two sides of one emotional coin, so that an emotional reaction can be experienced either way, or even both ways simultaneously. The basis, or foundation, of the experience is the emotional energy itself and the experience of love or fear is the perception (judgement) of that physically-felt energy.

I wonder if that makes sense.

So, the mind, by unconscious calculation (memory recall and judgement call), creates an emotional reaction to a stimulus (the encounter with the external world) and that emotional activity determines how we experience that stimulus: dopamine and serotonin = pleasant (love / move towards), whereas adrenaline and cortisol = unpleasant (fear / move away).

However, that’s not the end of the story… the emotional reaction becomes a new stimulus for the mind to react to. The mind then interprets its own emotional reaction, creating a story out of it (eg, “I feel this way because s/he’s a bitch/bastard” or “I feel this way because I’m fat and ugly”) and that provokes a new emotional reaction which provokes another interpretation… and so on… ad infinitum.

Our minds are flying on feedback loops of their own creation.

Our minds are loopy!

No wonder we’re all insane.

So, what to make of it all… how to use such understanding to one’s advantage? Relating it to the TEDxTelAviv video that sparked this recent bout of pondering (Hedy Schleifer, The Power of Connection, in which she takes about creating safe spaces for people to encounter each other in)…

Feeling fear of another is appropriate when we believe they will harm us. When we are not in danger from another, fear is unnecessary. The trick is to KNOW THE DIFFERENCE. Because of mind conditioning (ie lessons learned through experience) we might fear someone who we simultaneously desire closeness with. When two people desire closeness with each other and neither has any intention of harming the other, then fear is unnecessary, inappropriate, a hindrance to loving interaction and the cause of suffering.

The trick is for each person to BELIEVE they are safe. This is easier said than done, because belief runs deeper than rational thought, ie it’s subconscious. A person might know something in their rational mind yet act as if they believe the opposite, due to the compulsion of emotion that is attached to memory, which is subconscious. For example, take the common fear of spiders: people may know in their rational mind that a spider won’t hurt them (British ones, anyway), yet be unable to bring themselves to touch one (I’m one of those) no matter how much they might try to employ ‘mind over matter’.

Somehow we need to make the conscious thought replace the subconscious one. How? We could try and interrupt the feedback loop with positive thought (if we are caught in negative thinking) but – again – that sounds easier said than done, because it requires conscious understanding of our subconscious thinking… good luck with that one, humanity!

Mind you, I think many techniques, such as hypnosis and NLP, would say it’s not important to understand the subconscious dynamics – you  would just plant desired thoughts/beliefs in the subconscious and they would take root regardless of what was already there. Repetition would cause them to flourish and the neglected ideas to wither. I think that’s how it works. I think that’s how prayer and positive thinking works; ditto all thinking. (Note to self: read up on NLP.)

There are myriad paths one can meander in the forest of insanity. It doesn’t really matter as none of them will lead us out of the forest. Is this perhaps the best lesson to learn: there are no solutions, only different ways of exploring the problem – why not pick the one that is most alluring to us?

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