The seeds of doubt were planted at a young age. I can’t tell you exactly when, but I know it started in childhood. I was lead to believe I wasn’t capable, that I would struggle in this life. In particular, concerns surrounded my abilities in English. At first, my parents worried that I had a … Read more Why I Write
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman (Source: The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time) I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘what do you mean the ONLY … Read more The Only Thing The World Needs From You
The other night, while I was trying to sleep, I started thinking about the post I wrote last week where I stated that hatred is driven – at its core – by a fear of death. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something fundamental. Naturally this started to make me feel a little anxious. … Read more Why Everything Scares You To Death
That’s the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admit you’re an ass. It’s wonderful. When people tell me, “You’re wrong.” I say, “What can you expect of an ass?” S.J. Anthony de mello – SOURCE: AWARENESS “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent … Read more The Secret Ingredient Missing From Every Conversation
“The principle of freedom must be our first commitment, for without this no one is immune against the virus of aggrandizement – the impulse to grab power, wealth, position, or reputation at the expense of others.” – Herbert Douglass – SourCE:The Cost Of Freedom True freedom is a commitment to experiencing the very real limitations … Read more Why Freedom Demands Responsibility
Hello lovely readers and welcome back to 3-2-1 Flying Fridays! The only weekly post that believes we must fight for peace.
Following a 3-2-1 approach, it contains 3 thoughts from me (that you should ignore), 2 quotes from others (that you should read), and 1 something special (maybe).
As a bonus I’ve finished with one joke that’s so bad, it’s good!
3 x Thoughts:
1) There is value in anger if used constructively. There is no value in resentment. It means the enemy is inside your head. If we are to stand and win the fight for peace, we must first win it within ourselves.
2)Concentrate on loving and protecting those who need it, not hating those who don’t.
3) We all need to ask ourselves, what would we do? How would we respond if we woke up to bombing and heavy artillery tomorrow morning? What if we found ourselves in a war we didn’t ask for? What if we were made to choose between accepting the rule of tyranny and oppression or killing those trying to enforce that upon us? Then we need to ask ourselves how we can help.
2 x Quotes:
“War is organised murder and nothing else.”
— Harry Patch (One of the last surviving combat soldiers from the First World War)
“No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in the present instant. Take peace. The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within reach, is joy. Take joy.”
“Nations are ultimately built on stories. Each passing day adds more stories that Ukrainians will tell not only in the dark days ahead, but in the decades and generations to come. The president who refused to flee the capital, telling the US that he needs ammunition, not a ride; the soldiers from Snake Island who told a Russian warship to “go fuck yourself”; the civilians who tried to stop Russian tanks by sitting in their path. This is the stuff nations are built from. In the long run, these stories count for more than tanks.”
According to the Buddha, any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way. The first arrow is the bad event itself, which certainly can (and often does) cause pain. The second arrow is our reaction to the bad event, the suffering we attach to our pain. This secondary pain, he tells us, is always self-inflicted.
What you might not have been told, however, is that there’s often a third arrow in response to that second arrow! And, sometimes, even, a fourth arrow in response to that one. In fact, every now and then, hundreds of them start raining down. So much so that you end up feeling like this:
To give you an example, let’s say I step on my son’s toy lego (first arrow), but instead of accepting this pain, I react by getting angry (second arrow). But then, I get mad about the fact that I’m angry (third arrow). So now I’m really angry. As a result, I lash out at my children for failing to put their toys away, and also my wife, who I decide (because I’m über pissed) is too nice to our kids (fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh arrow).
Eventually, in a moment of ever-so-brief clarity, I realised that I was being unfair and regret shouting at my family (eighth arrow). But then, guess what? This makes me angry (ninth arrow). So now I’m mad about feeling guilty because I got angry, about my anger, because of my pain, and then taking it out on my family. I think I got that right. Anyway, you get the point.
You see, there is suffering, and then there is suffering. The first kind of suffering, as Buddha taught us, is equal to pain times resistance. The second kind of suffering is equal to pain times resistance to the power of arrows fired. (That’s real maths!)
Of course, the emotion doesn’t have to be anger. To use a real-life example (I swear I made the last one up) earlier this year, I started to feel sad because of the pandemic. As a result of not being able to get home to see my family, I began to feel isolated.
But I didn’t just feel sad; I felt bad that I felt sad. I did this by painting a picture of what I thought life should be like. Then, eventually, I felt bad about doing that. So, I told myself I shouldn’t feel sad because other people have it much worse. Then it occurred to me that I should be happy even though I’m not. Therefore, I concluded, something must be wrong with me.
And this sent me down the emotional rabbit hole.
Secondary Emotions = Suffering
Now, there’s a psychological name for these kinds of secondary emotions, and that’s, well, secondary emotions. These are the feelings we have about our feelings. Naturally, we’re the only animal on the planet who has these, and, naturally, they have a tendency to mess everything up (thanks consciousness). Basically, there are four major ones. Those are:
Feeling bad about feeling bad (think self-loathing)
Feeling good about feeling bad (think self-righteous)
Feeling bad about feeling good (think excessive guilt)
Feeling good about feeling good (think narcissism/ego)
Of course, many complex reasons contribute to these secondary emotions, including our upbringing, cultural beliefs, past traumas, etc. However, to give you a simplified answer, I believe the essence of the problem stems from a belief that because an emotion feels good or bad, it must mean it/us/the world is good or bad, instead of seeing the feeling as just, well, a feeling.
Now, how much of this has to do with what, exactly, is up for debate, but (to give you a few examples) one suspects telling boys things like, “men don’t cry” has something to do with it. One also suspects certain helicopter parents who worship their children’s feelings (instead of allowing them to struggle and fail in order to grow) might have something to do with it. The role of social media broadcasting everyone’s perfect airbrushed lives 24/7 can’t help either.
“How come everyone else is so happy? Why am I not happy? Something must be wrong!“
Feeling Bad About Feeling Bad Makes You Feel Bad
At any rate, this belief that something is wrong with us, in particular, is central to the issue of feeling bad about feeling bad. This is because that belief brings up more negative emotions (go figure), which we then see as confirmation that something is wrong with us. So, we end up in this emotional rabbit hole where we fire arrow after arrow after arrow – feeling bad about feeling bad – and on and on until, well, we have depression, or anger management issues, or an anxiety disorder.
Aside from forming a habit that becomes very hard to break, that first arrow pain is still there. So long as we keep firing second arrows, it will continue to do all manner of push-ups, pull-ups, and sits ups in an attempt to get out. That mother is getting ripped! Unless you give it the space it needs, eventually, it will break free and tear you (or someone else) apart.
Unfortunately, if you’ve been firing these secondary arrows for a long time, you may be unclear what your first arrow pain is really about. If standing on a piece of toy Lego turns you into the Hulk, for example, you can bet your bottom dollar that your primary pain has little to do with that piece of toy Lego, or your kids failing to put their toys away, or your wife being too nice.
On the surface, we may believe our suffering is because of these things, but it’s rarely true. That’s simply the narrative we’ve written over the top of our emotional pain because we believe we shouldn’t (or should) feel the way we do. Of course, we need to drop this false narrative to escape the emotional rabbit hole and process our pain.
To come back to my previous example, I felt sad for some very understandable reasons earlier this year. However, my belief that something must be wrong compounded my misery. The truth is these difficult emotions brought up secondary emotions related to low self-worth. This is a common reaction that has to do with past trauma rearing its ugly head. I wasn’t resisting my sadness so much as I was resisting my habitual response to that sadness.
It’s at this point things started to unravel.
Escaping the Emotional Rabbit Hole
Having a clear understanding of the false beliefs/traumas driving our secondary arrow of choice is important for this reason. Not because it will stop that second arrow, necessarily – unless you’re a Buddhist monk, it probably won’t – but because it will, at least, prevent you from firing a third arrow. If not a third, then a fourth, fifth, or, in my case, twenty-seventh arrow. This awareness gives you an out. It allows you to transcend the false beliefs masking your real pain.
Baruch Spinoza once said, “Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.”
If you’re still suffering – if you’re still firing arrow after arrow – then you don’t have a clear picture of it, despite what you might be telling yourself. For some, it might require therapy to untangle the web of secondary arrows and see that picture clearly. For others, it might simply need a period of quiet introspection. Happily, there is a well-touted meditation that I’ve used to great effect on many occasions called RAIN. I like to think of it like this – when it’s raining arrows, I need to:
Recognise it (become aware that you are firing arrows or experiencing difficult emotions)
Accept it (allow your pain to be as it is/don’t judge it)
Investigate it (look into it with curiosity)
Notidentify/Nurture it (understand you are not your pain/practice universal compassion)
After torturing myself for longer than I care to admit, I sat down and did this meditation. I soon understood what I was resisting (it’s always the same). Of course, it had nothing to do with my pain about the pandemic, but what I believed those emotions said about me. When I saw through this false belief – when I could see my demons in the light – the whole web of arrows I’d been firing crumbled to the floor.
In a nut shell Miller argues that our childhood experience – specifically how we learnt to hide our own feelings, needs, and memories in order to meet our parents’ expectations and win their “love” – fucks us up (I’m paraphrasing), leading to problems such as depression or grandiosity later on in life. She goes onto explain how left unresolved, our neuroses get passed onto our own children unconsciously.
She believes it’s possible that the trauma many of us have experienced may well have been passed down over generations. As in it’s not your parents’ fault you’re fucked up, but your great-great-great-grandad’s (that bastard!).
Anyway, without getting sidetracked into the nuts and bolts of the book, the other unforeseen consequence of not properly respecting our children’s feelings, she argues, is that they will seek refuge from their painful past in ideologies such as Nationalism, Racism and Facism.
She notes, “The basic similarity of the various nationalistic movements flourishing today reveals that their motives have nothing to do with the real interests of the people who are fighting and hating, but instead have very much to do with those people’s childhood histories… Individuals who do not want to know their own truth collude in denial with society as a whole, looking for a common “enemy” on whom to act out their repressed rage.”
Now bearing in mind she wrote this book over 40 years ago she also said this, “The future of democracy and democratic freedom depends on our capacity to take this very step and to recognize that it is simply impossible to struggle successfully against hatred outside ourselves, while ignoring its messages within. We must know and use the tools that are necessary to resolve it: We must feel and understand its source and its legitimacy. There is no point in appealing to our goodwill, our kindness, and a common spirit of love, as long as the path to clarifying our feelings is blocked by the unconscious fear of our parents.”
So what can we take from all of this?
Well my thinking is that first, we should respect our children like adults, stop trivialising their emotions and show them the unconditional love that they need. And second, in order to break the chain of neuroses that our great-great-great-grandparents passed down to us, maybe we should take ourselves to therapy and process our own unresolved childhood issues.
Anyway I’m curious to know what you think. Is the only thing we need to do to secure the future of our democracy resolve our daddy issues?
The other night, while I was trying to sleep, I started thinking about the post I wrote last week where I stated that hatred is driven – at its core – by a fear of death. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something fundamental. Naturally this started to make me feel a little anxious. Which then got me thinking, ‘why I am feeling so anxious? I’m just thinking.’
Anyway, I placed my mind on that fear and I asked, ‘what do you want me to figure out?’ Then something clicked. The penny dropped and I thought, ‘holy shit, all fear is a fear of death. That’s what you’re feeling. That’s why it’s so intense. It’s simply a trick. An illusion played by the mind to keep you, and those you love, alive.’
Immediately I started thinking about the implications this simplicity of thought might have. How we could use it to see through and conquer our fears. But also help those consumed by theirs. So I got up and started hashing out my argument. (No, I didn’t sleep well that night!) And well, this post was the result.
Anyway, buckle up boys and girls, because I’m about to take your mind down a rabbit hole that will blow it wide open. But first let me explain my thinking with a quick biology lesson. (I’ll try to make it fun.)
The Biology Of Fear
From a biological perspective the purpose of life is life itself. That all our emotions – the full kaleidoscope of experience – can be explained, broadly speaking, by two things. The first is survival (protecting our life and those we love.) Enter fear. The second is procreation and the raising/nurturing of offspring. Enter love.
These two broad encompassing emotional forces drive everything. They represent the light and dark side of the force. Yin and Yang, Male and Female, Ross and Rachel, Bert and Ernie… you get the point. It’s a delicate tussle counter balancing one against the other. However we need both of them.
Now, to forget love for a second (Say what?), let’s talk amount the most important of these two emotional forces – fear (Oh no you didn’t!).
Inside your brain are two little nuggets called your amygdalas. These naughty little nuggets are, biologically speaking, responsible for all of your emotional suffering. This is because they activate something called your fight, flight or freeze response system. And this has everything to do with your survival. (They love you really.)
Now, what happens when those naughty nuggets detect what they believe is a serious threat to your life, is they shut off access to the rational part of your brain (your frontal lobes). When this happens the only thing your brain becomes interested in is your survival. And it uses the fear of death to drive your actions. Telling you to either run for the hills (fear under flight), tread carefully (anxiety under freeze), or fight for your life (anger or hate under fight). That is what fear is, in essence. Fear is a fear of death. I say that because these responses are based on keeping you alive.
This is why I believe fear, anxiety, anger and hate are such intense emotions. Why we have a million and one different addictions and mental illnesses in our attempts to deal with them. We are dealing with a fear of death under different guises. And that is no small thing. (Have I blown your mind yet?)
The Link To Death
One of the problems I believe we have is we don’t link our fear to death. We lack the awareness. This is partly because many of us live in denial and partly because our rational minds and ancient emotional response system aren’t of the same era (your naughty nuggets are part of the limbic system which comprises the oldest part of your brain); but mainly because the ego doesn’t want us to figure this out. It’s a deliberate illusion. After all it’s not terribly useful to psychoanalyse your fear when face to face with a sabre-toothed tiger!
But you’re not actually sacred of the tiger. No, you’re afraid of one thing and one thing alone: death. What your brain has done is attach the fear of death to that animal, thing or situation. That’s why everything scares us to death. Because weare. That’s what drives us at our core.
This is also why, in the pecking order of love and fear, fear comes first (why we have something called a negativity bias). Of course this sucks the big one, however the logic makes good sense. You must first survive before you can thrive. Before you can use your big one!
In the case of a sabre-toothed tiger the link is obvious, much like a fear of heights. However others things are much harder to link, like onomatophobia – a fear of names. (Yeah, for real Bob.). Most often they’re rooted in our unique childhood traumas as part of our attempt to win the love of our parents who weren’t forthcoming with it (which we needed for survival). Other things are less obvious on the surface but make good sense when you consider our ancestry basically roamed around as tribes for millions of years.
For example, we understand that standing up on stage and making a public speech won’t kill us, (rationally we understand it won’t matter one iota), yet many of us are still scared to death at the thought. Why? Your surface level rationale is probably saying something along the line of, “if I mess this presentation up I’ll make a fool of myself and my coworkers will no longer respect me.” But so what? That rationale doesn’t justify the level of emotion it evokes.
Well, consider this.
Imagine you’re living as part of a tight-knit tribal community. A small group of hunter gathers where your survival depends on you getting along with everyone else. Suddenly social anxiety – fear of sticking your neck out – starts to make more sense. If you stand up and talk to the tribe and the tribe rejects you, it’s possible they’ll make you an outcast and now you really are fucked. So tread carefully (anxiety). You do not want to piss off the alpha! In today’s world, rationally, we understand the stakes aren’t so high, however your ancient emotional response system doesn’t.
This is also why we care so much what other people think. This is why we get so worked up over nothing. This is why we hold our beliefs as absolute and why we cannot stand to be challenged. (Please don’t disagree with me on this.)
This is worth stressing.
When it comes to our emotions we are working with a Palaeolithic operating system. It’s millions of years in the making based on what the world was like for us for the vast majority of that time. It’s not well adapted to modern life.
How To Conquer Your Fear
So now you’re thinking, “Ok Sherlock, now that you’ve made me aware that my crippling anxiety is actually a fear of death underneath, how is this suppose to help me?”
Because now you can ask yourself a couple of important questions. The first is obvious. Is your life really at risk? To use my previous example, is getting up on stage really going to end your life? No, of course not. Then are your feelings rational or irrational? We know the answer to this of course. But now we have awareness on our side. Suddenly it’s clear as day. Now you can look through it because you understand why the feeling is so intense.
That is a good reason to show those feelings love and compassion. That is a good reason to tell yourself it’s ok. And now you can remind yourself what your higher purpose is. What your loving motives are for standing up on that stage. And suddenly that fear starts to loosen its grip.
This allows your naughty little nuggets to calm the fuck down, which allows your frontal lobes to come back online. What you’re doing is placing your emotions back in the passenger seat of your car as opposed to the drivers seat. Which is exactly where you want them to be (except when your life really is threatened.) And so you go ahead and make most passionate speech of your life (maybe).
What you’ve done is used love for the purpose it was intended, to overcome your own fear of death. Not only that, you’ve just told yourself you conquered a fear of death, not simply a fear of public speaking, which is massive.
Now, here’s where I address the rather large Woolly Mammoth in the cave. If fear – a fear of dying – comes first in the order of our emotional makeup, then perhaps all of our emotions are related to a fear of death, including love? And if you think that’s a rather dark hypothesis to end, I would counter by saying how beautifully poetic I believe that is.
Lovewas nature’s antidote to prevent our own fears from destroying ourselves. It was designed to give us the courage to overcome our fear of death to protect our offspring. To protect our tribe. To protect our larger self. In an increasingly interconnected world I believe we must use that love to cultivate and serve a higher purpose that includes all life on this planet. We must use that to overcome – quite literally- our own fear of death in order to do so. I fear if we don’t, that fear, will consume us all.
Thanks for reading everyone. So what do you think? Are our fears simply a fear of death underneath? And is love the antidote to those fears by design? Thoughts and opinions keenly anticipated. Warm regards, AP2 🙏
“We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.”
– MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
I’ve been thinking about hate recently. Not only because we’ve see so much of it this past year, but because I’ve felt some as well. Truthfully it got to a point preceding the US election where it broke me a little.
I thought I was clear about where those feelings came from. What beliefs were driving my anger. But now that the waters have calmed, I can’t seem to shake this feeling that something else has been going on. Some deep-seated fear beneath the surface.
So I thought I’d give the topic of hate a more thorough examination. In an attempt to understand its purpose. And from that understanding hopefully find in my heart to show it some compassion. So we can all learn how to make love to our hate.
First let me get you in the mood with some foreplay in the form of gentle stroking questions!
One thing that’s touted around the blogosphere as the panacea to all of our problems is universal compassion. It got me thinking (and laughing) that maybe I should write a post entitled, Why Universal Compassion Must Include Donald Trump.
If I can get through that without reneging on the premise well, ladies and gentlemen, that would be something. Because honestly I can’t wrap my head around the idea.
Are somethings not meant to be hated? The emotion exists for a reason right? The rational part of my brain figures it must have evolved to serve some kind of necessary function. At least, in very rare circumstances.
Let’s, for example, circle back several hundred years and place ourselves in a small rural English village with a plague-ridden wife and four malnourished children.
Now imagine a hoard of angry, horny, Vikings start pillaging the village by chopping your neighbour’s head off (you hated him anyway).
Do you, a) abandon your family by running away, b) resign yourself to death and hold your family one last time, c) try to negotiate a civilised peace treaty (by agreeing to share your neighbour’s stuff) or, d) pick up your sword and fight?
Now let’s pretend your name is Uhtred, son of Uhtred, and that you pick up your sword. (I must watch less television.) What emotion do think would serve you best in a battle to the death?
Maybe I’ve inadvertently hit the G spot here?
When it comes to protecting yourself against someone (or something) who is attacking you, or those you love, perhaps hatred is meant to act as a last line of defence? Perhaps what drives our hate – at its deepest level – is a fear of death?
At this point my wife would tell me to slow down as she’s not quite there yet.
Anyway let’s get stuck into the main body (of this post) with some stuff I found on the internet.
After doing a bit of research into the relationship between hatred and death, I stumbled upon something that got me very excited (that wasn’t porn) called Terror Management Theory (or TMT).
TMT posits, “The inevitably of one’s death creates existential terror and anxiety that is always residing below the surface. In order to manage this terror, humans adopt cultural world-views — like religions, political ideologies, and national identities — that act as a buffer by instilling life with meaning and value. TMT predicts that when people are reminded of their own mortality, which happens with fear mongering, they will more strongly defend those who share their world-views and national or ethnic identity, and act out more aggressively towards those who do not. Hundreds of studies have confirmed this hypothesis, and some have specifically shown that triggering thoughts of death tends to shift people towards the right.”
I feel like I might have the G spot again!
If our cultural world-views are meant to act as a buffer against our own mortality, it stands to reason that a fear of death would cause us to hold onto them more tightly does it not?
What happens then, when those beliefs are challenged? Perhaps some of us might feel like our lives have been threatened? And what if people’s actual lives are threatened by something like a pandemic? Perhaps they’ll do everything they can to ensure that their beliefs survive in case they don’t?
Now imagine, if you will, a facist nation invades your country forcing you to take up arms to defend it. How do you think that might affect your feelings toward your country? I’m guessing you’d concentrate on what it is you love. What it is you’re willing to defend and die for.
Of course this is a big problem. And it’s important to stress that while hate may serve to unite a country, or tribe, against a “common enemy”, hate always loses. Because hate begets hate. As war has proven throughout history. Unless you succeed in eliminating your perceived threat, then that hatred is only going to build. What’s worse is that hate won’t be resolved by eliminating that threat if you do (which is impossible when considering an entire race of people). And then what happens? Hate looks for a new target. And if it can’t find one, it turns on itself. (Insert caracatiure of Hitler shooting himself here.)
This is why hate always loses. Not because love always wins, but because hate ends up destroying itself. That’s something I believe Trump never understood. He cultivated just as much hatred on the other side of the fence and it came back to haunt him. That’s exactly why the answer cannot be hate in return. (And suddenly the idea of universal compassion is starting to make more sense.)
At this point my wife would tell me to get to the point. And I would tell her that the secret to great love making is patience. And then she would tell me that girth is more important the length. And then I would cry myself to sleep…
Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, let me wrap things up. I’m nearly there!
TMT also got me thinking about another stereotype. The idea that people become increasingly “set in their ways” the older they get. It occurs to me that this might have less to do with what people believe, then an inability to come to terms with their own mortality.
Not all people face death in the same manner of course. Many are happy in death. Even when suffering many remain at peace. They’re not bitter or resentful. They’re not consumed by hate. They don’t want to hurt others.
This all begs the following question: If all our beliefs are designed to help us cope with the elephant in the room – our own mortality – and if a fear of death causes us to cling to those beliefs more tightly, then maybe that’s exactly where we need to start in order live in peace?
Now here’s my radical theory.
If hate is driven – at its deepest darkest core – by a fear of death, I believe that coming to terms with one’s mortality might be oneway to resolve those feelings.
But how do you do that?
Here are a few ideas. Meditate on your own demise. Face the idea of your death head on. Talk about it. Plan your own funeral. Treat today like it’s your last because it may well be.
The Stoics used to employ a technique called Negative Visualisation where you imagine losing what you value the most in life in order to help eradicate that fear. The idea is that it serves to lessen the emotional impact when difficult losses actually take place. The other hidden benefit is that it helps to cultivate a greater amount of gratitude for those things or people in our lives today.
Hello lovely readers and welcome back to another one of my life-altering monthly newsletters – where I take the time to digest how my month went and look at what areas I feel the need to ‘course correct.’ At the bottom you’ll find a list of everything I’ve written about this month. As always I hope you can draw some inspiration from my words.
Let’s get into it.
On Dealing With Anger:
The big thing that’s been bothering me this month – something that has come up a number times this year – is my relationship toward anger.
Historically it’s not an emotion I’ve had much of an issue with. I’ve never believed myself to be an angry person – certainly not one who reacts to it when he is.
Anxiety has always been the big black wolf for me.
Yet, as I continue to shake off the hangover bought on by years of depression, it seems that anger is the emotion I’m having the most difficulty with.
The question is why?
Now I’m not a psychologist, of course, but what I think might be happening is this.
The problem for those who don’t stand up for what they want and/or need, for fear of upsetting someone or challenging the part of your ego that likes to think ‘they’re a nice guy,’ is that their anger gets left unresolved. Over time, of course, this can build…
What I suspect might be happening, as a result of repressing my anger for so many years, is that it has finally started to surface. And when it has I’ve found it difficult to deal with simply because I’m not used to it.
As a result I’ve had several periods this year where I felt, to put it bluntly, pissed off at the world for seemingly no reason. This has resulted in my flying off the handle a couple of times.
One such example of this was when I wrote this rather angry blog post (while expressing my anger in response to another doom and gloom article about the environment) at the start of the month.
Of course I had a very good reason to be angry but the way in which I expressed it wasn’t, perhaps, the most skilful. After all swearing off the world and everyone in it is not terribly useful when it comes to inspiring action – which was the main gist of the article.
Still it was an interesting perspective – an unfiltered look at what my anger does for my writing when in full-on hulk mode!
It also got me thinking.
At the end of the day I believe honesty is the best medicine and that’s what you got – an honest look at my emotions in that moment, if not a well reasoned and balanced argument. The truth is that’s exactly what I want this blog to be about. I don’t want it to be another sugar-coated site about how amazing I am. I’m not. I’m flawed, just like everybody else. I want you all to see that.
Although I might regret the way in which I expressed my anger that day, the result of bearing my soul in the moment – of allowing myself to really feel and use that anger – has been very interesting indeed.
Let me run you through a few personal changed that I’ve made since then.
For one I just published a children’s book with a message about mindful consumption at its core. In an effort to put my money where my mouth is I’ve decided to donate everything I earn from it (because I don’t need it) to a charity that works with companies to redistribute surplus food to people in need. I also decided to volunteer for the same charity this month during my time off.
In terms of politics, because I believe nothing else will matter if we don’t sort it out, I’ve decided the environment has to be my number one factor when considering who I vote for. This makes things much simpler and quite frankly I need to simplify my thinking in areas like politics.
Anger, it seems, can certainly be used to exact positive change!
If that wasn’t all, what displaying my anger did, first and foremost, was generate some very honest and humbling responses from all of you lovely readers. This has, unequivocally, helped me tremendously!
Thanking My Readers:
With that in mind allow me take this moment to thank those who did.
Not withstanding those who saw through the vulgar language I used and agreed with the message or those who reminded me that my language was a bit strong, I’d like to make special mention of two in particular.
First up, Wayne – a good WordPress friend of mine, (if he doesn’t mind me saying) – called me out on it and rightly so! It also inspired him to write this brilliant blog post – Human Nature: The Caveman in all of us – which I can highly recommend reading.
Second, a young lady lady by the name of Janelle who took the time to respond to my angry post in a profoundly mature manner. I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing her comments here – what she said was this,
Please don’t ever feel like you can’t express your anger, sadness, frustration. Because then it’ll only build up in you. But you also can’t be so hard on yourself, you can’t blame yourself for everything, just like how at one point I blamed society for how I grew up, how I’m growing up. But at the same time, I have to agree, adults have left a world for us to fix, but you can also see it in a different light. And because we’ve been left this, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you can look at this and say that this is our generation’s version of a hard time. Maybe before it might have been poverty, or general society not accepting other people. But it’s something that will allow us to grow! I know this is such a happy spin on everything, and I know history shows such brutal truth, but I also know that the world we live in wouldn’t be the same without it. But yes. Be angry. Be mad. But do it for a reason. Don’t blindly be angry for nothing. Be mad so that you can change something for your children. And I know I’m still considered a ‘child’. But I know that we also look up to the adults in the world. The ones that have succeeded. The ones that inspire. The ones that change. The ones that show that you can do anything if you just try. What you wrote might show the flip side that no one might agree with, but it needs to be said. It can’t be ignored. And nothing is silly. Nothing is ‘bad’. Nothing should be considered ‘bad’. It just is. This is getting long, but continue to do what you’re doing, you’ve made it this far and I know you can continue to do more! Just one step at a time.
What Janelle did was cut through my anger with a level of compassion rarely demonstrated by most adults. For her to take such a positive outlook – to understand the massive potential for meaning and purpose that can be harnessed during such trying times… This is exactly the king of resolve I hope to instil in my children as they grow.
Her message immediately made me regret the way in which I wrote the piece – not withstanding the language I used or because I expressed it – but because I did so blindly – lashing out unfairly at myself and the world. She made me pause. She made me think. She made me a better person.
To Janelle and all of my regular readers who have done the same – thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The Direction Of My Blog:
So moving on and thinking forward. What’s my vision for this blog, my career, my family and the world?
I’ve been experimenting a lot over the last six months without worrying too much about the direction of my blog. Now however I do want to make it more niche – to concentrate on something you lovely readers can depend on when you stop by.
So I ask myself what can I give – what stories and lessons can impart? What do you want to hear? More importantly, what do I want to write about?
As I head towards my command I realise it’s my story – about a child who always doubted his abilities, his strength, his intelligence, who then got bullied for years during his adolescence, who also struggled with drugs and intense feelings of anxiety, all of which led to years of depression – to then go on to become a first officer for one of the world’s best airlines – to overcome those issues with anxiety and depression…
This continued quest for building greater confidence and emotional resilience as I chase command in the years ahead is what I really want to focus on. To one day tell the story of how a fearful boy turned his life around to become an airline captain, a published author, an environmentalist and activist for positive change, a loving father of two and committed husband to one.
I do hope you’ll all stick around to hear it dear readers because, I guarantee you, it’s gonna be one heck of the ride.
Thank you so much for reading. As always I love to chat – feel free to drop me a line in the comments section below. I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions on this blog. This is a very much a free state! Wishing you all much courage, resilience, love, compassion and resolve in the months ahead. God knows we’re gonna need it and each other – now more than ever. X (P.S .- see below for list of posts I wrote in September).
Hello fine readers and welcome to my Motivational Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the most depressing day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly better fashion.)
Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow.
As always I’ve finished with 1 something silly to hopefully make you all smile.
Love to all X
(To my readers: you’ll notice I’ve been playing around with the title. If you have any other ideas about a better title for this weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom. Equally any thoughts, feelings or suggestions about anything at else is also very welcome! Thanks for reading.)
4 x Thoughts From Me:
Happiness comes from finding the right sized circle of problems for you to solve. If it’s too small the insignificant things annoy you because you don’t have anything better to worry about – more to the point, you haven’t given yourself big enough problems to worry about. Similarly if it’s too big you’ll end up worrying about the things you can’t control – like current global events. Pick problems that you can solve and that speak to your heart. Learn to accept what you cannot.
The great thing about momentum is it builds naturally. Like a boulder rolling down the hill. The difficult part, of course, is getting it to move.
Make it your mission to be an agent of calm in the midst of chaos. When the storm settles, which it will, you will be well placed to pick up the pieces and put the world back together.
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee
“Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this… So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou:Source: Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much your own unguarded thoughts.”- Gautam Buddha
Trump listened to what everybody else considered to be just noise. What he heard – the moral outrage. He gave that recognition. Then he went to the boarder and talked about Mexicans being rapists. He used that anger and weaponised it for his own agenda. He created his own tribe.
What makes you angry tells you something about your character.
One of angers important functions is for the recognition of injustice. It identifies ethical wrong doings.
What would it say about our society if people weren’t protesting?
You’re suppose to get angry. It’s appropriate that people are affronted by these acts of injustice.
Tribal rage. It’s an age old instinct for it to turn into violence. This where we need to be very careful with our anger. (Why many sports fans become violent).
What we’re very concerned about is how politicians are exploiting this to motivate minorities in order to tactically win elections.
By banding together as part of groups and giving ourselves a narrative it gives us back a sense of control we feel we’ve lost. These are groups very much based on the idea that everybody else is wrong.
Tribalism versus ligiitmate anger or moral outrage.
Why are we also seeing more moral anger? In many ways we understand what is happening – by demonstrating our moral outrage. This is a sign for optimism.
One of the reasons Tribalism is being exploited by the political elites is that we lack motivating ethical ideologies.
The two overriding moral questions we are concerned about are climate change about the scale of inequality
Whatever you sit on the political spectrum a situation where you have 90% of the wealth allocated to just 1% of the population is clearly not very functional.
We have moral outrage about inequality and global sustainability. Add to that a recession – these are the 3 issues we need to solve as a top priority.
The majority of lower income individuals in the most vulnerable positions are getting hardest hit. When they see companies like Boeing given 50billion at the drop of a hat. When they were told for years there is no money to sure up student debts or increase minimum wage yet suddenly they can magic up trillions in the afternoon for big business. Why wouldn’t they be morally outraged. That’s where we are.
There is a lot of consensus about income inequality but very little consensus about what to do about it.
3 ways to do this? 1) A National Wealth Fund 2) A green new deal 3) Use dual interest rates
We all look at the climate crisis as this huge problem that requires a huge sacrifice. I view it completely the other way around. I say, ‘thank god we have this great opportunity for lots of investment spending because our economic situation is crying out for lots of investment spending.’
These changes will fundamentally change our economic system so that is more transparent and fairer. More importantly it will make people feel valued again and this will help counteract the huge rise in global anger.
“Everything that makes up this world that we call life was made by people no smarter than you. Once you learn this you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs.
The future doesn’t happen to us. It happens because of us.
Now is really the time to ask what you want your life to be about. This question is more important than ever because the present has stopped working.
We need more people who unapologeticcally seek break throughs
How can you do it? By backcasting.
Forecasting works best when you want to maintain a current path. When it comes to breakthroughs forecasting doesn’t work. Forecasting simply brings our current problems into the future with us.
Backcasting assumes that previous models of forcasting won’t work. Which is the whole point because you want to change the future. You don’t want to play by the rules anymore.
To do this first look for inflections. – An inflection is a time of significant change. (Technology/adoption/regulatory and belief – four major kinds of)
Inflection points provide leverage for entrepreneurs to wage war against the status quo.
You need to work from the future backwards. Consider different and surprising futures then work backwards to the present. This is how you find surprising breakthroughs in the market.
Imagine as a many as you can then look for and gather insights – An insight is an unrecognised truth that can lead to a breakthrough from the present.
It forms a connection between inflections and the breakthrough product
Think about futures that you are uniquely capable of building. Then ask about how you can build a team to make your insight a reality.
This is the moment to show who you are and what you want your life to stand for. The present has stopped working. We must create a better future. Bet on your ability to find a place to change the world.
1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:
My wife made these delectable carrot cup cakes the other day.
The first batch were regular sized but with the little bit of batter she had left she made a few smaller ones too.
When I got round to eating the smaller ones, I told her they were even more delicious than the big ones.
She asked why.
I told her because you can get a much higher icing to cupcake ratio with the smaller ones.
She laughed before commenting, “You’ve added more icing than cupcake!”
“Exactly,” I mumbled with one already stuffed into my happy face.
Till next week…
Have a Happy Fucking Monday Everybody!
P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!
“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist.”
When we voted in men we know lied to obtain their positions, what were we really saying?
Did we vote in the way we did because we refused to acknowledge our previous mistakes?
Will we vote the same way because we don’t have the balls to admit we were wrong?
Let me be more blunt.
What the shitting fuck has happened that we allow a man who almost only talks in complete bullshit to remain in office? Who is actively and openly preventing others from accessing the truth?
What the fuck has happened to our values?
When did freedom of speech become the freedom to lie your fucking ass off without repercussion?
You know that boy who cried wolf – who caused the death of all those villagers? Shall we vote him into power?
Great fucking idea.
Should we protect freedom of speech? Yes, of course we should. We should even protect the right to lie. But to allow people – the president of the United States none the fucking less – to lie without consequence?
What the fuck are we teaching our children?
How can we as a democratic society be ok with a man who actively seeks to prevent people from accessing the truth? This is a heinous crime.
I’m sorry for my anger and I’m sorry if you’re offended, but the truth is far more important than your ego. Actually I’m not sorry, fuck your ego. (I say that with love. I really do.)
To ask difficult questions means to confront some difficult truths.
Here are a few.
Democracy isn’t failing.
It’s not the republicans or the democrats fault. It’s not the presidents fault.
It’s our fault.
We together are all responsible. Regardless of whether you voted for that man or not.
Somewhere along the way we stopped trying to understand the other and it became a game of us against them.
In that moment we all lost.
That policeman who killed George Floyd. Who do you think is responsible for his death?
We. All. Are.
None of our hands are clean.
So long as we continue on our path of accumulating wealth while others starve.
So long as we continue to rape the planet will while we sit eating imported steak dinners simultaneously discussing how bad it is for the environment then joking how delicious it is.
So long as we sit quietly while someone with strong opinions talks about how our Black/Hispanic/Chinese/Female coworkers are less able. You know, the type of person who opens a sentence by saying, “I’m not racist but… I’m about to say something very fucking racist.
So long as we continue to think in terms of us vs them instead of a collective we. So long as we keep looking at each other as the enemy. So long as we allow those who we hate to be people we hate. We’ve lost.
I’m ashamed to say I’m guilty of all theses things.
You’re a hypocrite then? Is that what you’re telling us?
Yes. Yes I am. Absolutely. Both hands in the air.
I’m a pampered middle class white man who has enjoyed the privilege without even knowing it. My ignorance has been a disease. In no small way the colour of my skin has been an advantage that allowed me to succeed ahead of others who I’ve no doubt are more qualified, more intelligent and harder worker than I will ever be. All because I’m white and they’re not.
You know what. I don’t welcome it. It’s made me weak and I don’t welcome it. I honestly don’t welcome the easy life I’ve had.
I want a level playing field. And on it I want to compete with all my brothers and sisters regardless of background, ethnicity, gender or sexual preference. I want to embrace them at the end. Win, lose or draw. I want them to challenge me – to be able to really challenge me, so I can grow.
Do you think the athletic world benefited from allowing black people to openly compete with white people? Of course it did. Why the fuck don’t we think that true equality wouldn’t benefit us all? Of course it fucking will.
It will make ALL OF US STRONGER.
You see what we did when we marginalised and made groups of people unable to compete with us on the same level playing field? We made ourselves weaker. We made ourselves weaker because we made it easier for us by making it impossible for others.
Now we’re so fucking weak that equality feels like a burden. It feels like sharing wealth and opportunity is an affront to our being.
I’m wrong. My way of living is wrong. I’m so far from what is right it hurts. But you know what. I’m willing to admit it. Are you?
Are you willing to say I’m wrong or is your ego too fucking precious? We should all be encouraging each other everyday to openly say I am wrong and ask the question, how can I be less so?
Quite frankly if you don’t have the balls to admit you’re wrong, you’re a coward.
Is this making you uncomfortable? I hope so. It’s making me uncomfortable. Which is why I know it’s where I must go. If you’re uncomfortable it’s because I’m challenging your beliefs.
THATS A GOOD THING EVEN IF IM WRONG.
Let’s have the discussion. Let’s have the conversation. Let’s try to understand each other. Let’s move closer together.
And let’s stop giving power to those who aren’t willing to do the same.
Please, I bet of you, for our children’s sake. Let’s value our fucking values again.
(As always I welcome ALL comments and opinions. This is just me venting. Please don’t think I would ever direct that at you. I’m simply trying to get myself to wake up to the ways I can be better.)