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Wanting Fear

In my experience, the type of emotions you most experience are the kind you are most comfortable with. These are not necessarily good emotions. They can be quite traumatic. It’s the same reason that children of alcoholics often end up marrying or becoming alcoholics. Our brains are mushy buckets of goop that don’t like change. If something is traumatic but familiar, we involuntarily embrace it. This is not an indictment. This is simply a flaw in the human blueprint we must acknowledge if we hope to overcome it. Requests for modification have been sent to the designers of said blueprint but it seems that the last time they tried that the whole world got flooded so we don’t expect modifications.

We are dealing with a legacy system that was useful for safety when we were huddled afraid from saber-toothed tigers and kept hearing crazy people with ideas like wanting to talk to the saber-toothed tiger and help it through its feelings. Maybe it’s just dealing with frustrations at home and wants a friend, they’d say? Sorry, Uck-ugh, but that sounds like saber-toothed tiger-lunch-talk. The problem is this embracing of and comfort with fear may have helped us in the caves of primordial saber-toothed tiger lunch-avoidance, but it can be painful in modern society where the only thing threatening to eat us is a microscopic organism that lacks any visible saber-teeth.

Have a friend or relative who “hates drama” but is constantly gossiping? Or someone who says they just want to be happy and have friends but is constantly self-destructing relationships and moping? Or the person who preaches for the need to prepare for the doomsday by digging a shelter for all their guns they apparently need and hoarding a Seven-Eleven’s worth of dry goods? If the person who hated drama truly did, they would disengage entirely from the gossip and not contribute. The one who truly desires happiness seeks self-improvement, not pity, since pity isn’t actually the currency to social exchange, mutual interest and shared joy are. And the fearful prepper buys MRE’s that will last two hundred years not as a solution to their fear, but as a confirmation of it. That locker full of ammunition is simply a verification that they are right to be afraid, and should maybe buy some landmines just in case the zombies breach their defensive perimeter or if the neighbor’s dog decides to pee on the bean garden. But no amount of pea-free bean paste will eliminate their fears. Why? Because they WANT to be afraid.

Once more, this is not a condemnation. This is a flaw in the human psyche we all possess. That busy-body needs a support group to pull them away from damaging gossip. That depressive person needs medication or a psychologist, the equivalent of an IT expert fixing a few frayed wires in our caveman constructs. And what do we do about those who peddle in fear? Because the problem isn’t that they themselves are afraid. The problem is they want you to be afraid as well, because it further validates their own fear. Sometimes this means we need to meet that fear with optimism and hope. They might call us naïve, and maybe we are. They may need to be cut off, to save our own fragile psyches. Or they might simply be unaware of why they’re so afraid.

Tell them that they WANT to be afraid. Tell them they want validation of their fears. They don’t want solutions. They want fear. Because that fear is comfortable, and even something better is unknown and not to be trusted. And so ask yourselves: what problems in your life are plaguing you because you WANT them to plague you? Not intentionally, of course, but what terrible emotions have you been unable to eliminate? If you would benefit from getting help, medication, improving yourself but aren’t, is it possible these motions haunt you because you cling to them? We do not WANT fear. And so we seek ways to eliminate it. And then, logically and with a saber-toothed tiger-free sense of reason, we asses threats against our desires to live happily, and act accordingly.

Bottom-line: in these fearful times, we must act with reasoned caution. We must listen to experts. We must act with the benefit of the group in mind. We must fear things worth fearing, but when someone hands you a spear and tells you to line up in formation against the saber-toothed tiger, you’d better stand fast with the confidence of your similarly-armed comrades. Because running away in fear when you need to hold the line is not helping anyone. And the tiger’s probably gonna chase you down anyway, since those people with spears look far more dangerous.