I don’t rant and rave. Certainly not in the usual social media circles where such things are the norm. I don’t cry, hyperventilate, wring my hands, retire to a fainting couch, or angrily assume the worst in others’ thoughts, and if I did any of that, and did it publicly, I sure as hell wouldn’t claim to be Strong while doing it.
This is partly because I’ve learned not to let things get to me – I react, medically, very badly to some forms of stress – but partly because I don’t come from an assumption of weakness. And, by the way, claiming strength while demonstrating weakness is frankly pathetic. Several times in the past day I’ve had to remind myself not to troll my friends and acquaintances when they’re being foolish. Better to demonstrate a better way, as a teaching method, and even better to not endanger my legend. (This is, by the way, an example of having one motivation for your goals/policies for when you’re wearing a white hat, and another to support the same policies when the hat’s black.)
In case it’s not clear what’s happening here (or you’re reading this some time down the road), the United States has just held a very contentious presidential election, and people seem to have, collectively, lost their minds. It’s even worse than 8 years previous, when Obama was elected, and that was a new low for my lifetime.
Don’t be pathetic.
I was unfazed then and now. Am I a superior breed of human, immune to the tides of emotion and easily objective beyond the ken of my overreactive species? I’m tempted to joke, “Well, perhaps,” but the truth is entirely the opposite: my nature is very passionate and strongly emotional. Serenity does not come to me easily, let alone instinctively. But it was that very tossing about of emotions that showed me I absolutely needed to get ahold of the situation. The problem was that as soon as any sort of fervor arrived, the swirl of emotion blew away even the clear memory of how I was going to tamp it down or deflate it.
It took a while to realize that the solution was to set up a proper frame of mind that doesn’t lend itself to the problem in the first place.
And by “a while” I mean it took an embarrassingly large number of years. One reason I’m recording all this here, remember, is that I don’t want you to slog through a problem if I can hand you a tool to get past it a lot faster.
In this case, the tool is an application of the core of my Jovian philosophy, which I’ll be laying out pretty shortly. The aspect I wish I could convey to people today – though they’d have to wait until they calm themselves, because it’s preventative, not curative – is that coming from a default position of fear will cause a regular, predictable loss of self-control. Panic. The basic point of view of “what’s trying to kill me now?” is valid enough if you’re a rabbit or a rodent; but you aren’t. And what do you think homo sapien means, anyway? You have the ability to examine your thought processes and change them.
So change them.
No one is saying it’s easy. It’s certainly not automatic, and it’s rarely if ever instant. You’re retraining long-trodden neural pathways, and they will resist. Moving a bad habit to a good one is a notorious challenge. It’s not as hard as many seem to think, though. When you see the change happening, it is so freeing that you’ll want more of it.
What needs to happen is this:
- Notice when you have a lot of negative emotion. Don’t make excuses for it.
- Look closely at what prompted it. Find the fear and panic behind the storm.
- Show yourself the presumption of weakness/helplessness that lies behind the fear.
You need to look squarely at that presumption, though it will not want to be looked at directly. Repeat every time it happens. You will, at first, only be able to shame yourself into restraining visible outbursts. But hey, that’s an improvement. External, yes, but an actual, tangible improvement. Once you have your actions more under control, a self-reinforcing cycle will begin between that process and an ability to inject objectivity to your point of view (real, calm objectivity, not the hysterical ravings the fear tried to tell you were objective before), showing yourself that you are not nearly as helpless as you believed.
This is not strength, but it is the beginning of it. It will allow it to develop. It may be, for you, the start of the removal of a strait-jacket that’s kept you from who you actually are.