Attention Feeds My Fear

What I give attention to grows! I have a problem-solving mind. And because of this, my mind seems to forever need problems to solve. Sometimes I feel I’m creating the very problems I then must solve.

In my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble awareness, I focus my attention on that which I fear. I fear what and who I perceive “I’M NOT.” It’s automatic and a problem that must be solved!

That fear adds a perceived value to what and who “I’M NOT”- a value I feel I’m missing. Problem! I may feel I gain a sense of being complete when I add that perceived value to an external substitute – like a loved one, pet or new gadget. Yet, that sense of wholeness is a temporary condition that convinces me that the addition completes my value. Problem solved! Or have I just created another problem?

Each problem I think I’m solving creates a drain on my energy and resources. This drain I call a fear-feed on my attention. Because I feel dependent on external value, I always have this unwhole problem to solve. This distracts my attention from those interests that validate my wholeness. I can take charge of my attention and focus it where my consciousness takes me – beyond measurable value.

A thought has no feed value without attention. The objective of fear is to capture and feed on my attention.

In bubble awareness, I associate fear with survival. In this survival state-of-mind, fear offers me a way to silence my need to survive by convincing me to accept and follow a simple equation:

Me + Not Me = Wholeness

In bubble awareness, fear rules my consciousness. I imagine someone or something holds a value I perceive is missing in me, a value I need in order to feel complete. Once I attain that which I believe completes me, I enjoy a high of feeling OK. Yet, after a while, that artificial high wares off and I’m back to feeling fearful and incomplete. More than anything I want to feel whole and complete, yet fear pulls my attention back to the “I’m Not” problem that I feel needs solving.

Beyond Fear

While I keep my imagination firmly locked within bubble awareness, I continue to allow the fear process to nibble away at my energies until my body and mind can no longer sustain the feed.

One cannot escape bubble awareness using bubble awareness. One cannot use fear to cure fear. I must look elsewhere. I must look within… take charge of my attention… and…

Imagine beyond…

Fear and Discipline Impact Perspective

Where I focus attention determines what I experience. When I focus my attention on fear, my perspective changes to give me an experience of threat as reality. Discipline changes that formula.

To the undisciplined mind, fear seeks to prove inadequacy as rightness. Rightness is a need that must be defended within the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble. Certainty about my fear solidifies its image in the mirror, making it real and threatening. My need to deal with threats pops up and takes over my awareness, focusing my attention on solving an illusory problem. Attention I divert from other, perhaps more useful, subjects – like gratitude, enlightenment, connection, and awakening.

About Disciplined Attention

Focusing on fear narrows awareness of options, resulting in suffering in the form of lack of confidence, perception of deprivation, and poverty consciousness. When I’m convinced I’m right, I narrow every perception, every judgment, every opportunity, to fit within the boundaries of that right path. “There’s only one way out!” says the hero. Well, yeah, maybe there is only one way out IF you know of no others or IF you’re so terrified that you can’t think properly. Yeah, then maybe there’s only one way.

To the disciplined mind, fear represents one among many options for attention. I can appreciate and respect the power of the fire without short-circuiting my brain with fear about it. The narrowing effect that fear has on my thinking abilities strongly influences my chances for survival in an emergency. This is the reasoning behind the rigorous training first-responders get. Much of it focused on managing their fear so they can retain that wondrous faculty for effective action we can bring about with a disciplined mind.

Mental discipline provides awareness of options, resulting in a sense of confidence, trust, gratitude, strength, and expanding consciousness. There are many effective methods for managing fears. Within the bubble, mental discipline requires practice – lots of practice. Perhaps a lifetime of practice.

What happens when I’m “late to the game” of mental discipline or don’t have time to devote to all that practice? What then? Am I just SOL?

Awareness and the Bubble

Imagine a soap bubble. Does it take a lot of work to open it? No, a simple pin will do the trick. What about illusory bubbles? What kind of effort, practice, study, physical strength, strategy, or instrumentation does it take to open one of those?

Perhaps awareness is the key to disciplining the mind over fear. Maybe bursting the fear bubble only requires awareness that the bubble is not real. When faced with a fear, sometimes I’ll shout to myself inside to, “stop!” Then I’ll take an inventory of here and now – ground myself in time and space. Sometimes counting items I see or feel helps. Then I’ll revisit the object of my fear – now that my mind has settled down a bit.

Yeah, my method is a sort of “trick” – that demonstrates how quickly, easily, and effortlessly a mind can be disciplined and brought into order. The mind gets sharper the more bubbles it pops.

Think about it.

How Fear Feeds on Attention

Inside my First and Second degree bubble, everything lives by satisfying needs. An unsatisfied need can trigger a sense of suffering, which can present as fear. The more attention I pay to a need, the more energy I invest in its satisfaction because I fear suffering.

Could fear be the result of imagining what might happen if a need isn’t satisfied? In this way, could fear feed on my attention? Might I create a feed situation when what I give attention to turns into an unsatisfied need? Could I be causing my own suffering?

My fear-need process seems to be a circular awareness path in which I:

  1. …sense an unsatisfied need and then –>
  2. fear suffering because of it and then –>
  3. pay attention to the fear and so –>
  4. take ineffective action that falls short of satisfaction and –>
  5. pay some emotional energy and–>
  6. return awareness back to item 1 above…

Unfulfilled needs lead to fear of suffering that leads to unfulfilled needs that lead to more fear. Note how often I pay in the cycle above. Pay, pay, pay – feed, feed, feed. Out of control – it’s a fear feeding frenzy!

Perhaps fear is like a parasite, feeding on its host’s energy through attention. Could fear prize attention as its reward? As I seek to satisfy my need to avoid suffering, might I draw more suffering by attending to the demands of fear? Am I evolving according to the fears I attend to most?

How does fear feed on attention?

Perhaps an analogy might assist in the understanding how fear feeds on attention.

Fire fighters pull up to a burning building. A window in an adjacent building reflects the raging fire. The fire chief erroneously points his crew’s hose at the reflection rather than at the burning building. Obviously, the water poured on the window fails to extinguish the fire. Despite the amount of water the fire fighters apply to the window, the fire continues to grow. The greater the fire grows, the greater the image in the window and the more the fire fighters’ attention to it.

The fire fighters are doing what they know is the right thing to do even though their efforts are ineffective. Until the chief questions their actions, he may not recognize the error. A very wet window and a very burned-down building will be the result.

Fighting Ghosts

How many times have I done what I knew would work and felt the sting of frustration when it didn’t?!! Maybe I was hosing down a window – a reflection. Perhaps my fear is a reflection that draws my precious attention away from effective action. The image of what I feared sucked my energy away from taking effective action on the object of that fear.

How do I beat my fears? One, perhaps useful, way is to recognize them for what they are: ghosts, figments of imagination, reflections. Unreal. No matter what I fear, that fear is a ghost – not the object it reflects. No amount of attention poured on the fear window will put out the fire it reflects.

Like the fire chief who directs his forces at the window while the building burns down, I can continue to attend to my fears as I have – enjoying a fullness of frustration. Or I might reconsider by recognizing the ghost for what it is – a reflection – and asking, “What else?”

  • What unfulfilled need does this fear reflect to me?
  • How do I feel about that need? (particularly, where and how in my body do I feel it?)
  • Why is my attention drawn to this need (and not another)?
  • Who has the power of intention to redirect their attention? (I do!)

Could “but” Be an Indicator of a 3rd Degree Choice Point?

Could “but” indicate a 3rd Degree of Illumination choice point? Let’s investigate the competition involved in “but” – that little three-letter joiner word I use to express the conflict between two competing concepts.

“I want to” but “I don’t want to” is the same as
“I want to” vs “I don’t want to” which is the same as
“This” vs “That” in terms of value – a choice point between values

Value vs Value – a split in my beliefs – an opening.

Who am I “butting”? Who am I challenging with a “but”? Who am I – really?

Read more Could “but” Be an Indicator of a 3rd Degree Choice Point?

Personality Type by Third Degree Question

Might I be able to identify a personality type by dominant usage of Third Degree of Illumination question type? Referring to our 4-question model of inquiry:

  • A What type might focus more on things, ideas, etc.;
  • A How type might focus more on ways and means, goals, and methodologies – engineering;
  • A Why type might focus more on emotions, empathy, and certainty;
  • A Who type might focus more on interpersonal relationships, authoritarianism, etc. –

Might a long list of personality characteristics be made from these? I wonder.

Read more Personality Type by Third Degree Question