Fear: The Most Powerful Human Emotion
When I began my career in mental health more than 40 years ago, I saw anger as the most powerful human emotion. When people are angry, they become volatile. If someone has a build-up of unresolved emotion, he or she becomes even more volatile. In these cases, anger might be expressed as yelling, screaming or, even worse, acts of physical violence. Anger is obviously a powerful emotion. However, most anger is driven by an under layer of fear.
For many years, I have been involved in the research and development of technologies designed to restore a human consciousness to a state of balance. In order to develop these technologies, we had to understand as much as possible about the dynamics of emotional imbalance. From what we observed, we concluded that well over 70% of the people walking around in industrialized societies are driven by fear. All living creatures naturally seek a state of systemic equilibrium, meaning that our systems naturally seek a Perfect Balance Point. The Perfect Balance Point is the place where one uses the least amount of resources to sustain the highest level of vitality. Yet, in reality, the majority of people live their lives at their Coping or Survival Point. This is the personality system developed to survive physical and emotional harm. It is the system that people develop so they can go on with their livesand get their most essential needs met, in spite of the fact that they were unable to avoid certain kinds of emotional harm.
Survival adaptations probably begin in utero and certainly begin in early infancy. In order to sustain inner balance every child has a unique set of physical and emotional needs that must be met. As there is no such thing as perfect parenting, no child ever gets all his or her needs met. However, for any child to sustain inner balance there is a critical amount of emotional and physical support that must be provided. If that support is provided, the child will experience the world as being a relatively safe place to be and will live in a relatively balanced state.
If however, the child’s emotional and/or physical needs are not met to a sufficient degree, the child will begin to adapt to his or her conditions out of fear that he or she will not survive. In survival mode, children withhold expressing their needs often for the sake of not burdening their parents. I should mention here that I am not talking about negligent parenting in particular. Certainly there is negligent parenting and that does produce very frightened children. But I am also talking about very ordinary parenting, sometimes by parents of good will who themselves grew up in families that were unable (for whatever reasons) to provide enough emotional support to the children. You cannot give your children what you did not have, unless you do something about resolving what you did not have.
For example, Sally grows up in a family with four siblings and a father who is overwhelmed by the children. Her mother is a kind person who lost her own mother when she was very young. Sally’s parents do the best they can with their children but they do not have the emotional resources to provide for five children. Sally figures out when she is very young that the best thing she can do to survive in her family is to be cheerful and peppy around her mother, which is Sally’s way of carrying her mother’s grief. And, she learns to be nurturing and kind to her father as a way of carrying his emotional emptiness.
Sally, remember, is under the age of four when all this happens. She has no filtering system to be able to evaluate her parent’s capacity to care for her, or to realize that the problems are with her parents and not her. So she concludes that she is a burden to her parents and feels guilty when her own needs emerge. Sally learns at a very early age to bury her fear. So when Sally is frightened by something as an adult, she automatically pushes that feeling down, not realizing that this very powerful emotion is actually driving most of her adult behavior.
As an adult, Sally is cheerful, peppy, upbeat, kind and nurturing. The problem is that Sally behaves this way all the time. She rarely shares her needs with her friends or her children. She seldom tells her husband when she is in need of emotional support. People who know Sally see her as a strong person and, in a way she is strong, given what she has had to survive. However, she is not emotionally balanced. She is cheerful, peppy and nurturing almost all the time. No one is naturally cheerful, peppy and nurturing all the time. In a natural condition, Sally would be cheerful some days and not so cheerful other days. She might be very kind and nurturing sometimes and other times she might be more reserved and in need of collecting her own resources. She might be peppy and upbeat sometimes and then sad and withdrawn other times.
Sally’s whole life is driven by fear. She is so adapted into her survival personality that she is almost completely unaware of how frightened she is. Her fear drives the way she dresses, the way she styles her hair, the car that she drives, the food that she eats, the work that she does, the parenting of her children, her sex life, etc, etc. Sally’s fears cause her to overextend herself and to give of herself, sometimes to people who are not appreciative of her kindness. Her fears cause her to evaluate herself harshly at times and to feel at her bottom line that she is not good enough.
Once human beings begin to live in fear as children, they most often become adults who live in fear. That fear might be expressed as chronically pleasing other people; struggling to be perfect; pushing oneself to always be on the top of the ladder; driving too fast (the fastest and most reckless drivers on the highway are the most frightened drivers); being volatile and edgy; or thousands of other possibilities that all add up to fear.
Fear runs a broad gamut of intensity and a wide range of expression. If we were to think of fear as ranging from zero or very low intensity to one hundred (very high intensity), we could say that the most balanced people live at the lower end of the fear spectrum and the most unbalanced people live at the higher end of the spectrum. Those who live at the very highest end of the spectrum suffer from the more severe forms of mental illness, often described as paranoid schizophrenia. This is the person who walks around chronically frightened but tends to project that fear on to other people. The paranoid schizophrenics accuse others of doing things and saying things that are often not true. They often have two sides to their personality: the good and sweet child, and the vengeful child. This personality behaves in ways that are aimed at keeping other people frightened, so it does not have to feel the intensity of its own pain. For this type of personality, the fear becomes a kind of a hot potato.
Those at the higher end of this spectrum are the most difficult people to treat in mental health because they have little motivation to change. But the average person living with low to moderate and even some high levels of fear are probably the easiest to restore with the right kinds of help. The average person walking down the street would be somewhere in the middle of our fear spectrum, just struggling to get through every day, but often unaware of the struggle.
Societies run on fear. Consider the advertisements you see on television and notice how they tap into fear. Watch a few and notice how many are aimed at tapping into people’s fears. Look at political campaigns and how they tap into human fear. Consider how frightened people are to go to the doctor or to refuse medical advice.
Having been caught for decades in fear and observing human behavior for more than forty years, I can tell you that fear is the most protected emotion. Fear often traps people in a Sisyphus kind of life. Sisyphus in Greek mythology was condemned to rolling a rock up a mountain only to lose his grip and have it roll back down to the bottom. This is the person who is always trying, always pushing, but never reaches a point of satisfaction or success. This person can easily be taken advantage of in the workplace. Even hearing the Sisyphus story might cause you to think “I just have to push harder and put more effort into pushing so I can succeed.” Yet, this response is also a function of being driven by fear.
The natural, balanced personality realizes that there is no need to roll rocks up mountains. These behaviors are just aspects of protective patterns that take you nowhere. He or she just steps off the mountain and lives life based on his or her own natural needs, wants, hopes and dreams. The natural personality lives life with the feeling that you are doing what you have come here to do and you are finding inner peace in the process of doing it.
So the question arises, where do you live? At your survival or coping point, or your natural balance point? The first step in recovering from a fear-driven life is discovering how afraid you are. It is taking a look at how much you do every day to please other people and not please yourself. It is looking at how you drive yourself and how hard you push yourself. It is about acknowledging how difficult it might be to stand up for yourself, or looking at how edgy and volatile you might be.
Emotional balance is the key to health. If you would like to hear more about the I Ching Systems technology, call 1-508-944-4250 or email us at [email protected]
Disclaimer: These Instruments are for experimental purposes only, and the FDA has not approved/evaluated these tools, resources, recommendations, and/or aids.All products, procedures, and information are not intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, prevent, and/or cure any disease. None of the products, procedures, and information replaces or substitutes for the advice of a practicing medical doctor. See a qualified practicing MD for any disease or medical condition.
by Mary Miller MSW, Health Freedom Advocate