Motivation, Considering Fear as a Tool

Fear may have gotten a bad rap in my limited awareness bubble. Consider how I’ve blamed fear for most experiences I’ve deemed negative. Perhaps perception of fear says more about what it represents about me than what it actually is.

Consider that fear is an emotion, and like other emotions, motivates thoughts into action. Fear doesn’t tell me specifically what and how to do things. Rather, the direction thought “chooses” to follow may be strictly determined by set programs. Fear simply serves to move the process along. Could I be using that motivation to validate my interpretations?

Like fire, when fear is recognized as a tool rather than a controller, its use could reveal a significant benefit. At some point in humanity’s distant past somebody realized they could control fire and, so turn a threat into a benefit. At that moment, my ancestors made a significant change to their fear equations regarding fire. They may have changed their entire world when they added fire to their tool set.

Fear as Motivation

Fear can drive personal change. Somebody moved fire from the realm of unconscious fear response to conscious respect for its power. On that day, humans realized they could turn their fear into a tool for conscious use.

Fear can be exhilarating. It can be funny, sublime, even entertaining. We use fear to moderate behavior for social purposes. Common fear can drive action towards solving vexing social problems like racism and political corruption.

Fear has its role in survival – perhaps the primary experience in life’s drama. Yet, fear doesn’t dictate how I should live, my interpretation does. Quality of life is up to the interpretations of the one living it.

Fear as Tool

When used as a conscious tool, fear can energize intention through emotion and interpretations of intention with powerful focus. That can then push me to overcome seemingly impossible odds.

“While fear can lead to less than ideal or optimal results in performance, it can also help propel athletes into some of their best performances.” (Cristerna 2014)

As desire represents an “attractive” force, fear represents a “repulsive” force of motivation. One might increase the probability of success by using both forces together to achieve a goal.

Maybe fear is another expression of love that can be used like other emotions as a tool to achieve an intended goal.
Perhaps fear, like fire, makes a dangerous, though useful, servant and a dreadful master.

Resources:
How Fear Can Help You Win, Learn to use Fear to your Advantage in Taekwondo, by Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHT, (Special Submission to USA Taekwondo).

The First Cause

Perhaps intention is a fundamental characteristic of consciousness and the first cause from which experience arises.

An intention is an awareness of separation from wholeness – “me” consciousness. The first intention I’m aware of is to be whole. This results in an awareness of lack. Thus, I generate intentions that limit awareness and codify them in instinct to support that first intention.

In limited awareness, intentions appear as problems seeking solutions.

Any intention includes consideration of one or more means to achieve its end. This acknowledges and defends a sense of separation and lack in the present moment.

Achievement of an intention ends that intention. Because of the underlying sense of lack, the end of one intention is part of another. This movement from intention to intention generates a sense of living moment-to-moment. Time reckoning.

The First Cause

My first cause is to live at the expense of my environment. Because I perceive myself as a separate being who must fight to survive, I experience this adversarial relationship with my environment.

Because I believe I own my own experience of living, I feel a need to protect it from the ever-present threat of lack. Therefore, I feel I must fight to achieve against the tsunami of lack waging war against me.

What if I question my causal intention to be whole? Might I expose an underlying paradox in which I apply a problem as a solution?

  • What does my intention to be whole presuppose? (lack!)
  • How am I satisfying that intention? (limited awareness!)
  • Why do I have this intention? (to experience limiting awareness!)
  • Who am I as a result of my intention? (fearful and defensive!)

My default is to believe I must fight and defend to achieve wholeness. How do I achieve wholeness without fighting for it? Maybe an investigation of my first cause is in order?

What if seeing my life as a problem to be solved is itself a problem to solve – that cannot be solved by solving the problem! I can’t solve a problem using the strategy that created the problem.

As long as I perceive my life as a problem, I can’t solve it!

What might happen when I stop the fight by releasing the sense of debt inherent in the first cause. That release might appear like surrender of the fear of death.

What might happen to me when I release my fear of death? Might I then realize the wholeness I already am and transition out of my bubble of limited awareness?

What if the solution to the problem I perceive is the realization that there never was a problem to solve? Perhaps the first cause is false.

The Peace Paradox

The paradox: the more one seeks peace, the less one finds. This because seeking acknowledges lack of that sought and finding signifies the end of seeking it.

  • Misunderstanding: My life is a problem I need to solve, the solution to which ends my life.
  • Understanding: Life simply is.

“Mad Hatter: “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

In a world of complements as competition, defense – in the form of cause and effect – seems to exist as problem and solution. It’s a loop condition! That is, until I see both as one, I realize my misunderstanding.

One might see the humor in it.

Peace comes at a price: constant effort towards its achievement and maintenance. This raises a question. Why am I not at peace when I’ve worked so hard for it? My answer has always been to double down on my efforts because I must not be doing enough. You know, if at first you don’t succeed… try doing the same thing with renewed determination over and over again hoping for a different result. Sound familiar?

And there’s the paradox – and the humor. It seems the more I invest in achieving and defending peace, the less peace I experience. Even when I feel I’ve achieved a sense of peace, my defense of it hinders my enjoyment of it.

Challenging My Understanding

I defend what I believe gives me peace. Meanwhile, I feel threatened I will lose that peace. How can I feel threatened when I’m feeling peaceful?

It feels like a catch-22 situation in which I use the process that created the problem to solve the problem. One cannot use limited awareness to escape limited awareness or misunderstanding to correct misunderstanding.

What might happen when I shift my intention from seeking wholeness to celebrating separation? Rather than seeking to solve the problem of separation, I could enjoy the experience of it.

Perhaps it’s not about problem-solving, it’s about living in gratitude – awareness of who I am. Disconnecting from the value judgments I place on my creations allows me to enjoy being a creator. This is a different experience from that lived in judgments of right-wrong, good-bad, defensive limited/limiting awareness.

“’Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.” Rumi

Questioning A Satisfied Mind

Although the satisfied mind invites a challenge to it, it resists questioning because it feels satisfied. No need to ask a question when you feel you have the answer. Peace resists challenge!

Yet, I’m driven from deep within to understand what is beyond what I understand. I feel an urgency to expand my limited awareness to appreciate what I now cannot imagine. I wonder…

What if peace is not the answer? What if my sense of peace and comfort is an invitation to exploration into gratitude?

Fear and the Choice-Defense Algorithm

Consider how fear validates lack at the physical level by motivating the fulfillment of physical needs. That physical sense of fear influences choice-making by effectively removing options. Fewer options means more time available for fulfilling needs. That’s critical in life-or-death choices where use of time makes that choice.

From an instinctual perspective, choice may be entirely based on compliance to symbolic representations and pattern recognition. Thus, my choices defend my certainty of the reality of my symbolic representations.

Fear is the driving force of compliance – an intense, unquestionable obedience that motivates all need fulfillment.

If the instinctive world had a motto, it would be, “Do what you know!” Perhaps conscious choice threatens that knowing by questioning the certainty of the motto.

Because of the primal nature of instinct, questioning the motto will initiate defense. Fear represents preemptive defense of the motto, preventing me from even asking by returning my consciousness to the instinctive state.

Questioning is only half the equation – consideration is the other.

The Choice-Defense Algorithm

The choice-defense algorithm is a filtering process. Perception of an option’s value and immediacy affects the algorithm. For example, a high-stakes option will eliminate all lower-stakes options from the competition. My investment in fear artificially elevates an option’s value to higher-stakes. Repeated use of a certain fear in choice-making results in a bias in its favor. Thus, raising the stakes on certain options as they appear.

When I feel I have time to consider many options, I’ll filter them through a value-based mental/emotional consideration sieve. This filtering process is steeped in instinct. I already have a bias and preconception of the outcome of the process. In other words, it’s not a choice, it’s a defense algorithm!

The algorithm takes into account each option’s relative characteristics – based on a knowing. Like choosing between chocolate or vanilla ice cream – I’ll select the option I already believe is best – a bias. This because we select through symbolism. For example, I compare vanilla to chocolate in symbols I perceive as color, taste, temperature, etc. I then defend my “choice” with an explanation or reason for why it is better or best.

It’s an unfair comparison process because I’ve added biased value to MY selection compared to others. Competition and defense – the cardinal characteristics of my bubble of limited awareness.

Fear adds preemptive defense value to the already biased choice-defense algorithm, returning choices to the realm of instinct.

An Insight into Solving the Problem of Resistance

Intentions indicate a sense of lack. A sense of purpose arises to fill that lack. For example, I breathe to satisfy a sense of lack of oxygen.

I seek to satisfy physical and psychological needs by solving problems. That means asking questions that lead to solving those problems.

When I become aware of a problem, I must solve it with a change. That’s a problem because I resist change.

How do I solve the problem of resistance? That resistance is a state of mind and states of mind can change. A state of mind break might be useful.

Breaking focus from a defensive state of mind to a more resourceful state of mind involves a simple change of attention. For example, when I’m focused on a problem and resist its solution, I might use an insightful question to break the resistant state of mind, “What do you want?” Or I might yell, “Snap out of it!” in my mind. Or, I may engage in some unrelated activity, like walking, redirecting focus, or asking an unrelated question.

Solving the Resistance Problem

With awareness of my defensiveness, I might follow-up with some self-awareness questions:

“What do you need?”
“How might the information I’m resisting be useful to me?”
“What else could this mean than what I think it means?”
“Why am I resisting this?”
“Who am I?”

These questions may bring about awareness that stops the resistant response.

In the process of solving the problem of a resistant state of mind, the discomfort of resistance can awaken awareness. Once activated, awareness is an opportunity for insightful understanding. Awareness questions experience. When I question my experiences, I bring clarity of understanding to them.

Let’s look at some examples of how I might use clarity to solve the problem of resistance.

Problem – Solution:
Fear – Pause from present actions and intention to investigate purpose, refocus, and ground.
Certitude – Question present resistance with, “Is it true?” “Can I know it’s true?”
Stress – Calmness
Stuck thinking – Consider alternatives, “What else could this be/mean?”
Inattention – Check my intention, “What do I want?”

In doing the above, I’m taking a shortcut to problem solving. In this case, the problem is resistance, the solution is understanding.