How To Fight Monsters: Battling Fear

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

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If you were the most adventurous fish in the lake, you would probably know every little corner there is to discover. After a lifetime of exploring, you would have settled down as the most knowledgeable fish in the passed-down history of the whole lake. You would be at ease with yourself and die happy, having fulfilled your heart’s desire to uncover all the secrets hidden in this world.

The End

What you would never have discovered, though, is every other lake, sea or ocean on this planet and even in the whole universe, for that matter. This ignorance has kept you safe from madness because in one lifetime it would have been way too much to explore even if you could have found a way to cross the land. You didn’t know, so you didn’t search.

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We humans don’t have that luxury anymore. Whatever it is that we want, we know that it’s there. We can’t unknow it. Even if it was impossible or too much for one human lifetime, we couldn’t unthink the thought. When we have reached one goal, ten new one’s appear. It can haunt us down wherever we hide and if we try to run away, it will bury us. Ram Dass said:

“You are born as what you need to deal with, and if you just try and push it away, whatever it is, it’s got you.”

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We have been implemented with an intuition that is as unique as our fingerprint. It guides our relationships, private lives and even the TV channels we are drawn to most. It all serves a purpose. It’s what our inner magnet must align with. It does not matter how good you are at some things, even most things, there is something that makes your heart pound and your mind race. The excitement rushes over you and you become alive.
You see, self-development is not about being cool and calm while following your heart’s desire. It’s about learning to channel all the excitement you feel when you are in its presence without burning out. Of course, it is also about being cool and calm during all the other things, which are not that. You might be relaxed at so many different activities that are very close to your desire, but as soon as the pointer hits the spot, your energy breaks loose. This is not about deadening yourself, it’s about navigating.

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You won’t be calm on the inside through thinking your way out of it, so don’t even try. You will be alive as you should be. Here’s the important thing: The only relief you can have is looking straight at it and allowing it to absorb your energy. That’s where it wants to go. The second you lock-in, you will be still. You will be in the eye of the hurricane. Staring right in its face is the only thing that can set you free. You can’t pretend, it will see right through it. It does not want you to be nice, clean or perfect, it just wants you to be truthful. If you lie, it will eat you. It observes how you perform and has its hand around your neck. You have no choice at all. The rule Nr 1 is:

Never ignore the energy.

When the big wave comes right at you, you must ride it or it will crush you. You can be calm and cool as much as you like, but when it hits, you climb right on top of it.

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But don’t get me wrong. You’re not a one trick pony that never grows out of it. You have many of those things in your life, right now. Some, you have come to love over time, some still rob you of your sleep and some are slumbering deep inside, waiting for their turn to come to the surface. Think back to when you first discovered the things you love now. Do you remember some fear, by any chance? There probably was plenty of it. The important thing to remember is that you only deal with one man-eating monster at a time. Don’t make them team up. Single-mindedness is our greatest strength in this process. Multi-tasking is better left for tasks that don’t need our full attention. This one does. Take it seriously, but not yourself.

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In the end, I’ll leave you with this story:

We all belong to this species, that lives in an overpopulated, overconnected and emotionally immature culture, which is spreading across this planet like wildfire. The hunter-gatherer tribes that are still existent today will be gone in a few decades if we keep growing exponentially. We are not designed to live like that. We can adapt, yes, but many of our instinct have become irrelevant. The agricultural revolution has turned us into a different type of human and there is just no way back.[1] We don’t like to settle anymore, we want exploration. What we have is not enough, we have become greedy. Ever heard a report of a hunter-gatherer tribesman turning up at a fast food joint in South America? They don’t do that.[2] They are content with what they’ve got. We are not. Like a group of grasshoppers that has turned into swarming locusts, we are haunted by fear.[3] If we don’t deal with that fear, we will die in bitterness. The way we have to deal with it is our own, unique path and if you wouldn’t tell anyone about it yourself, no one would ever know it existed within you. As Bruce Lee said, “All types of knowledge, ultimately mean self-knowledge. There’s something that is not obvious to anyone around you, but it has a language you already understand. Learn to speak it as well.

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References:

[1] In the book Sapiens, the Author Yuval Noah Harari makes the great point, that the agricultural revolution was the domestication of the humans by grains. We are the ones now living in houses and who became significantly more miserable through all the extra work. Of course, we have a lot of technology and knowledge through that, but happiness has become secondary. The next stage will be developing environments, more suitable for us humans. Also, making work an option and not a must, as every technological revolution so far has promised us.

[2] About the hunter-gatherers leaving their villages: It actually does happen but only when they are forced to do so ,through violence or loss of resources.

[3] Christopher Ryan talks a lot about this concept on his podcast Tangentially Speaking. If he ever finishes the book he is always talking about, then you can read it in Civilized To Death.

[4] I have to highlight Steven Pressfield’s Book The War Of Art, once again. It is a beautifully written non-fiction book on the resistance of the creating artist.

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