I enjoy nightmares. I am not sure if it is considered a nightmare if I enjoy them, but I do like the thrill of fear and in general, I am semi-conscious and aware I am dreaming. I haven't had a nightmare for a very long time, and I barely remember my dreams these days.
When I was about seven years old or so, I watched an old black and white vampire movie late at night and then couldn't sleep. I went to the room next door where my brother was and told him and then he gave me the best piece of dream advice I could have had.
"They are your dreams."
Simple. This gave me awareness. Agency. Control.
A few moments ago as I was getting ready to go to bed after sitting essentially staring at this screen all night trying not to post, my daughter woke up screaming and when I ran in there, here eyes were wide with a blend of fear and surprise.
Apparently she was visited by a moose and it ran up to her, and stopped. While this scared the bejeezus out of her, she best learn from the experience as after all, this is Finland and the chances of the nightmare coming true is quite high.
Agency is something that a lot of us tend to give up rather than take the responsibility for it. We end up blaming others for what happens to us as if we are merely passengers in the car with no will or decision-making power. The older I get, the more this kind of behavior seems to grind on my nerves.
But, perhaps it isn't related to age at all and it is just that blaming others for all of our ailments including how we feel is the go to position for the society we created, the safe space generation. We have engineered a sense of security that doesn't exist and removed obstacles and mental frictions that lead to strength and then, we have encouraged people to get in touch with their feelings.
We haven't encouraged understanding them for what they are though, transitory emotional states that pass by like clouds in a blue sky. Instead, we have empowered them to move freely and uncontrolled regardless of their relevance, accuracy or appropriateness. We have weaponized them so that they become tools of war that both unleashes rounds, and takes hits. Emotions, the currency of the attention economy that leverages the most compelling of all of our emotions fear.
Fears make us irrational thinkers as we look to protect rather than understand and when we have so little control over our emotions, we are easily startled and quickly ramped up into a state of poor judgement. We go on the attack without hearing considering what instigated the emotional spike, we get defensive without considering the argument in relation to our beliefs.
It is a lose/ lose for all except those who can inject stimuli and manipulate the narrative to get what they want, to buy their product, vote for their candidate, sit in fear instead of changing the world. Fear makes us consumers of saviors as we search for the hero to protect us. Clothes to makes us beautiful, a pill to make us slim, a car to build our status amongst our peers.
Our ego fears as being seen as lesser so they leverage our perceived personal flaws, the cracks in our confidence and pry them open. Magazines with articles of empowerment juxtaposed with advertisements for products to lose weight and cover the blemishes and imperfections.
When we do not feel we have agency over our lives, we are primed to look for a layer to protect us, no matter the cost, no matter the fact that it is a thin veneer and we are the same person underneath. We might fool others, but the fear of being found out can't be hidden from ourselves. This is why people get so defensive and combative when criticized, as opening the door for potentially being wrong is too close to the truth, it feels safer to double-down.
Perhaps what is required in the face of fear is humility and an openness to the possibility of failing, of being damaged, of committing and getting it wrong. But, we have set a society that punishes a change of mind as if new experiences and understanding should have no effect on past commitments, as if we as children, teens, young adults and the elderly should all have the same position throughout life.
Being humble is not a weakness, it is a strength - freedom from pride and arrogance. We are trained to be proud of what we do and that makes us arrogant and protective of our creations, no matter if circumstances have changed and there are better techniques available. We become broken records of our own self-indoctrination, habitual, robotic and stagnant.
My daughter is too young to understand how powerful she can be yet, she is yet to understand the control she is able to have over her body and mind - the agency she can learn. As a parent I want to protect her, keep her safe, help her grow to be strong and that means opening her up to fears and allowing her to face them and learn that most of them are in the mind. Once she understands that, she has agency over her emotions, and control over her attention.
People think the value of the attention economy as in the being able to attract attention. The real value is in the ability to pay attention and avoid the flashing lights designed to hijack the emotional circuitry, take away agency - and make us passive consumers.
It is right there in the term, there is a cost topaying attention.
There is a larger cost for not.
Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.
[ a Steem original ]