In the book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” Susan Jeffers confronts the paralysing feeling of fear. Fear will stop you before you can get started, or push you to quit when success is just around the corner.
It is not just negative emotions such as fear that can keep you from setting and achieving meaningful goals. The errant pursuit of positive emotions such as “happiness,” contentment, or bliss can send a person on an impossible quest that can tie him up in so many knots for so many years that he never has a chance to understand what he needs to do to build a life of purpose and meaning.
Fear is Overrated, and So Is Happiness
We live in a “touchy-feely” world of safe spaces, entitled perpetual children, and a constant readiness to take offense for perceived “lack of respect” or “cultural appropriation.” Feelings are given precedence over purposeful and considered action across the public sphere — even though only purposeful and considered action can make our world a better place for everyone.
Across the worlds of academia, media, government, social media, and worlds of work and play, emotions are elevated above a broad competence, a competence which would allow people to invent, create, and produce the things that lead to a more expansive and abundant human future.
Emotions are important, of course. But they are secondary to what you actually do, in reality. For example, “self esteem” comes after competence and accomplishment. “Happiness” is a spontaneous response to particular settings or events which usually required a lot of hard work to set up. “Bliss” is a special experience that usually accompanies a serendipitous juxtaposition of outer events and inner awareness and receptivity. Positive emotions often occur at the culmination of a series of unrelated — and sometimes unconscious — achievements which all required action on your part to bring about.
Feelings and Moods Follow Inner Narratives, Dialogues, and Story Loops
We have some control over our moods and feelings, as long as we are aware of the inner voices and competing intrigues which influence emotions below the surface. The extreme example of this underlying moodmaster, is suicidal ideations. Some people easily fall into repeating images of self harm or personal annihilation, which cannot help but result in depressed mood and despair for as long as the images are allowed to repeat.
Less dramatic examples of unconscious mood controlling narratives and story segments dominate the lives of large numbers of people. Daydreaming — which involves the “default mode network” of the brain — can take over the minds of students in study, workers at their desks, writers at their keyboards, and anyone else who has an idle moment that turns into much more than a moment. Sometimes great ideas occur to a person in the state of “mind wandering.” But that only tends to happen to “prepared minds,” which are struggling with a specific problem, and need a little subconscious assistance.
Kekulé spoke of the creation of the theory. He said that he had discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail (this is an ancient symbol known as the ouroboros). This vision, he said, came to him after years of studying the nature of carbon-carbon bonds. __ August Kekule (Wikipedia)
For most people, most of the time daydreaming is a waste of time at best, and an open door to self berating thoughts at worst.
People Can Control Their Own Inner Dialogues
It is the goal of cognitive behavioural therapy to replace dysfunctional “inner dialogues” with more positive inner thoughts which predispose to constructive actions and behaviours.
Likewise, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy modifies a person’s mood patterns and inner thoughts by multiple pathways — including an increasing awareness of what is happening deep inside, and the actual alteration of brain circuits involved in the default mode network’s function.
Neurofeedback can also be helpful in altering brain function toward more productive and purposeful habits of mind, but that approach to mood assistance has barely begun to be developed. It holds immense potential for the future.
For mood modification and modulation, it is generally best to view pharmaceuticals as a last resort — although in certain situations, antidepressants and other mood modifying drugs can be lifesaving. All the same, persons should take advantage of any opportunities they can find to become more insightful and aware of their own internal mood mechanisms.
How Do You Learn What You Should Do?
If actions should take precedence over feelings in most situations, how does a person know what he should be doing? That kind of priority-setting is learned over many years of experimentation, free play, and the repeated discipline of making plans and putting them into action across many areas of life. As the child plans, makes predictions, and experiences results after putting plans into action, he builds a portfolio of increasingly refined expectations.
By the time a Dangerous Child is eighteen years of age, he will have mastered a broad range of skills, competencies, and at least three ways of earning a living. He will also have started and run multiple business enterprises of various types, with roughly ten years of business and money management experience before reaching 18.
A Dangerous Child will learn to deal with success and failure, and will learn to distinguish the two at earlier and earlier stages of project development. By doing this over and over again, he will learn to deal with the emotions and social inputs that accompany both success and failure — long before his livelihood and future is on the line.
Dangerous Children also learn many non-financial skills and competencies. Whether an expertise is in the area of lethal skills or non-lethal competencies, each level of accomplishment is embedded within a matrix of responsibility to the family and community.
The Story Goes Much Deeper than this General Sketch
But even if we were able to portray the full story, we would not do so in this setting. In time, we will fill out enough details so that interested parties can follow the leads.
The primary goal of The Dangerous Child movement is to build networked islands of competence in a broad sea of dysfunction and — too often — malevolence.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .