- Mental Health
Life Hesitating between Love and Fear
The Basic Pair of Emotions
Without any ambition to make it all look like a research paper for some science journal, I'd like to start by reminding you that there are only two inherent emotions - love and fear. Right after our birth that's just about everything we have in our emotional capacity, as these two emotions, still in their raw, primordial form are most crucial for our survival.
So, to avoid any confusion over the name, we are certainly not talking qualitatively about that "love" between Romeo and Juliette, or even love for our dear mother. At that stage we simply love any provider of our comfort, be it a person or a condition.
Likewise, the fear that we may feel at that stage is mostly connected to discomfort, like a need for a diaper change, hunger, thirst, sleepiness, uncomfortable bed, or pain. Since we have no developed ability as yet to patiently tolerate, our survival alarms just go off in form of crying. We are literally "scared". Only later that fear specializes into every lousy feeling imaginable.
A Guardian and a Nuisance
Fear is common to all living beings, even plants, as it has been scientifically demonstrated. An experiment was done with a regular lie detector and a house plant. As the experimenter was slowly approaching to the plant's leaves with a lit up cigarette lighter, the plant attached to the lie detector started responding to it. Another similar experiment was done in a forest, where a tree was smacked with something and another tree was showing a response.
Now, being smart, mother nature equipped us with a much stronger fear response than love response, as it made a difference between life and death to our prehistoric ancestors. Unfortunately, as we are about to see, that genetically predisposed us for a wide variety of negative emotions, meaning that we are much more likely to be emotionally preoccupied with negativism of living praxis than positive aspects of it. Well, that's how it is anyway unless and until we do something about that.
In popular terms we are talking about "fight-flight" mechanism with its all garden variety of derivatives like hate, anger, worry, envy, jealousy, anxieties, depression, guilt, shame...you name it. In other words, while it served well to our ancestors, this mechanism can be a pure nuisance in modern life, and the source of shrink's income.
No One Is Without Hate in Their Potential
Now, let's have a little inventory of some of the derivatives from love and fear by starting with fear. Without any special order intended, here is our ability to hate. Again, it is ingrained into our potential just like any other outlet of fear.
For those who fancy how they "don't have any hate in them" (religious folks in particular), let me give you a simple example. Someone is attacking your kid, and what do you feel? Trust me, you won't be wondering at that moment "what is an appropriate and moral way to feel", your hate will be intense enough to gather that adrenaline and confront the attacker.
Also, supposing that you are a very religious person, you won't just keep your loving and forgiving disposition and shrug sayin to yourself: "That must be god's will", while watching your kid taking all that beating.
Fear as Related to Hate and Anger
Hate is emotional partner of anger, and anger is a fear of being violated in some way. Once triggered that fight-flight response of fear either prompts us to feel an active anger and express it, or a passive anger, which is hate.
We hate those who violate our rights, our convictions, our status in society, in a fear of a loss, at an onset of insecurity. Hate is also bitterness, and in a differently channeled expression it's also envy and jealousy.
Now please, let us not mix hate with dislikes for a game of words. You may dislike broccoli, but you don't really hate it because it's not doing anything against you. For an even better example, you don't hate things that are not to your taste, like a pair of shoes or a piece of music.
A Short List of Derivatives from Fear
At a closer look at any of the identified negative emotions, we can see fear in its background giving it energy. Let's go through those most familiar.
Take envy for an example - it's a fear of someone being recognized as better than ourselves. On the other side of the coin is jealousy, which is a fear that we might lose someone's love to another person.
Sadness is a fear of uncertainty over how a loss will affect the rest of our lives, as we are struggling inside to adjust to it. It is particularly pronounced when a departure of a dear one makes us empathize so much with that person that it scares us with our own mortality.
Guilt is a fear of losing love and respect because of something that we have done; and on the reverse side of the coin is shame, which is a fear of losing our own self-respect. Since self-respect it closely connected to our feeling of self-reliance, a loss of it would trigger insecurity.
Worry is a fear of some real or imagined negative outcome in life. It's probably the champ among all derivatives of fear, judging by how common it is .
Ego's Door Sign : "Do Not Disturb"
Among all other interpretations, ego could be defined as our arsenal consisting of strategies for psycho-physical survival. That "psycho"- part refers to our daily wakeful state which insists on maintenance of a relative emotional balance, so that we can mentally function in life.
So that ego, or our self-image of our "normal state" has developed some defensive mechanisms, to prevent that mess of possible emotions from disturbing it. The most favorite is that old, good suppression.
Suppression may work quite well, except that it carries a potential of some very negative downsides. Namely, since those suppressed emotions are in the first place energies, when not allowed to be expressed in the field of consciousness they will get expressed by attacking our health balance. So we have that long list of possible "psycho-somatic" ailments and conditions.
I have seen quite a few of those apparently calm and "cool" individuals who are actually a "time bomb", or "accident waiting to happen" with that accumulated emotional charge in them not having an allowed outlet to escape.
We have also heard a lot about those "nice" people who suddenly "snapped" to commit some violent act to others or themselves. So, those bad emotions are better allowed to come out to the surface of our consciousness - not to be acted out, but to be dealt with in a rational and even spiritual way. I have written some articles on this theme of spirituality as it deals with our negativity.
Some of the Silly Ways We Cope with Lousy Emotions
We may see them everywhere without recognizing those subtle and unconscious ways that some people use to quiet down a nagging emotion.
One of those ways is indulging in some shopping sprees, even returning the merchandise shortly after, but compelling at the time to silence that feeling of insecurity. I have seen a few of them, some being at a verge of hoarding stuff in their houses, or buying clothes like there is no tomorrow.
Then some dudes walk with their arms away from body - a "gunfighter style" like ex-president George W. Bush - as if to gain in body's volume and give themselves an additional sense of confidence or importance. Many of the shorties tend to walk like that, as if appearing wider will compensate for not being tall "enough".
It's interesting how instinctive and totally unconscious it may be, as even birds will fluff their feathers to appear bigger, as well as cats when they arch their backs and fluff their fur.
You may have also noticed how some bald guys may grow big beards to compensate for missing hair at the right place, as if hoping that may somehow confuse others to see that bush a few inches higher up. Indeed, it's truly amazing how we can deceive ourselves just to mask a nagging emotion.
Nothing however is so common as indulging in foods to avoid feeling bad. Our fridge is so often serving as a therapist, as we resort to its goodies whether we are bored, pissed off, sad, or anything of that kind. Abusing drugs, tobacco, and alcohol doesn't even need any explanation.
The List Goes On
Some women fearing a romantic commitment and intimacy unconsciously make themselves unattractive by gaining a lot of weight or keeping their wardrobe "simple". Some others who are afraid of pregnancy, or emotionally scarred in childhood with a distrust for good outcome in relationship with their mother - may have problem getting pregnant even if they consciously want a child. There are also those who dress in some flashy colored clothes out of fear that they are not being noticed.
People gesticulate with hands while talking out of a fear that their words alone won't be convincing enough. Others swear a lot for the same reason, while believing that obscenities will give that necessary punch to their point.
Possibly not every religious person, but I would estimate it's still a majority out there who are resorting to a "protection under a god's wing" out of a chronic existential fear, with an additional balsam in that promise of the "eternal life".
And so on, and so on...everyone is displaying their own style of dealing with their fears which are always present in their more or less dormant state.
Love - the Hand that's Spinning the World
Now, let's spend some time with love, which, curiously enough doesn't need much space to describe. For the simple reason that in the whole complexity of human emoting it is less prominent than fear, and its derivatives are not all that dominating in this world of wars, divorces, betrayals, arguments, crime, and other pearls of our coexistence.
And yet, love is that power which makes the world turn, and all of us possible. It's the emotion that covers every life promoting drive in us, from our cellular level all the way to our capacity to enjoy a good piece of music or art.
Love rejuvenates and heals, love maintains and balances what is out of whack. Love unfolds into the emotional bouquet of happiness, playfulness, compassion, eroticism, courage, artistic creativity, enthusiasm...and so on.
And yes, love is the closest synonym to spirituality that we could think of. It's giving us an incentive to bring to the fore divine essence of who we were predestined to be - after dimming down the fear generated by our animalistic aspect of being human.
Love is the one that's spurring us from within to explore our spiritual depths, to expand the ceilings of what we can, to develop new models of functioning and experiencing. Ultimately, it's love that gives us the reason to live, and to embrace those dear ones in our life - with a wish that the embrace could reach the whole humanity.