Management of life by fear

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, 400 years before Christ was the founder of Buddhism. I do not know much about the religion he has left, beyond what I need for certain understandings of contemporary philosophy. But, I find it interesting to start this post, to know that he left only 4 written laws. I only know the 1st: “Life is suffering”.

That is even the only law I know. And worse, I do not even know if it is right. But for me, it explains the essence of life: “If nothing else is done, pain, hunger, plague, and senescence will be swift to exterminate life.” Do not see this as an apocalyptic speech, I speak of much simpler and individual elements.

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If you do not lift your butt from the sofa and strive to do things and, at the same time, no person does it for you, death will be certain and fast. Water must be used to quench thirst, food must be used to kill hunger, soapy must be spread to remove the parasites from the skin, care must be taken so that old age and death do not arrive before the age of 30.

Life is the exercise of the activity of living, and this activity of living comprises from the flight from suffering (death) to the construction of good living. So, the abandonment of combative and constructive force, with the dress of a desist and depressed life are the guarantee of suffering.

In cognitive psychology we usually translate this by a very simple motto: “inactivity attracts more inactivity”. That is, if you are stopped, the tendency will be to remain still until you exercise strong willpower and become active. Of course, “activity generates activity”.

The Buddha and contemporary psychology are right: if nothing is done, then suffering is guaranteed. This means, from the basic maintenance of life to the explosion of moments of blessing and happiness demand an active attitude, they demand a powerful attitude towards life. Even the most passive of meditations is an activity, therefore, an action and therefore requires power and attitude (even because, to exercise the mastery of one’s own mind requires a lot of energy).

In this respect, to depress is to die. In this regard, letting life take you and giving yourself to it, is an important attitude toward life, absolutely opposed to being depressed. To flow with life is to act upon life without seeking the result, to sow and to tend the plantation, without dreaming of the harvest. It is to accept that the sower will bear fruit as the necessary actions for it have been taken, just as rain falls from the sky when it rains (necessary action) and the earth rotates (necessary action) to form day and night.

If nothing is done, the suffering is right. Death is certain. The most correct and true of the laws given by some religion. So, suffering is the basis of any movement in the process of existence. The lion hunts for hunger, we build buildings to escape the suffering of the bad weather and buy fur coats to escape the suffering caused by the frustration of “not having” what is demanded.

Unlike the philosophy and French psychology of the early twentieth century, it is not the emptiness that moves us. The void does not exist, there is always a basic filling, an essential filling made by suffering. When there is self-abandonment, one does not fall into nothing or nowhere, one falls into anguish and suffering, and this is very different from nothing.

The presence of this essential filling is absolutely negative in terms of an emotional experience, and it is pure displeasure. Therefore, it is not empty, it is filled with pain.

And, this pain would be the zero point. It would be the ground zero of living. From it, everything needs to be built, requiring power, effort, but also planning and direction. To walk to exhaustion, without a direction, without a goal, will also lead to suffering.

Thus, power and ideal must forge a directed and constructive impulse so that suffering is always temporarily left out. The planning brings the pre-image of what would be achieved by the application of the power of a certain form. In a classic prediction of cause and effect, “if I do this, I will get that.”

This pre-image generates motivation or movement. It is in this anticipation given by the pre-image that faith (delivery of the desired) is deposited, that movement, action, attitude are worth, worth it, worth the effort.

Here, we come to the main point of this post: the pre-image can be positive or negative. That is, the force that generates the movement can be based on the fear of more suffering: “If I do not go to work, I will not be able to pay my bills and live on the streets.” As well, this force can also be based on the expectation of more pleasure: “if I work and I can buy my car.”

Realize that the positive and the negative are responses against suffering, but the cognitive command that generates movement is different. In the first, the basic belief is, “I can not suffer anymore.” In the second the basic phrase is: “I want more pleasure”. But in both, one escapes suffering.

One, it aims not to arrive in a place of pain, another has as a goal to arrive in a place of satisfaction

Managing life by the fear of suffering, as in the first case, is the most common. Leaving behind a life of misery in childhood and being afraid to go back to it, is a powerful driving force for entrepreneurs. We hear these stories constantly. My maternal grandfather left the hinterland and came to the city, my father left a house in the backyard of his grandparents’ house, both built a world to do not return to misery. To do not to return to suffering.

Managing life through positive goals is possible and sometimes demand training. It allows you to live with less anxiety and, of course, less fear. But, it requires a workout. It requires knowledge and belief in one’s own powers to build a project with goals and objectives that are feasible for life.

A project that can actually be achieved. Real, necessary, plausible project. So you need to know what your real potential is, you need to know how to direct it and what direction to give it to it. Managing life with positive goals is more difficult than managing for fear, requires more self-knowledge, more rigidity in behavior and, most importantly, much confidence in the outcome.

The person suffering from depression lost that faith in the results and stagnated in suffering. In some cases, paralysis is caused by unattainable positive goals, other times it is by a real and inescapable sense of not being able to build something. In both cases, stagnation, inactivity are the result. “Why move if it’s not worth it?” “Why move if I can not reach?”

The situation seems simple. But, remember, in all three cases (management by fear, management by pleasure and depression) we are talking about core beliefs. That is, of cognitive structures that will give shape to thinking and acting. So they are very rooted structures, very deep in the personality and in the cognitive structures, not always able to be changed from one moment to another or easily. Most of the time switching from fear management to pleasure management requires coaching, lectures, books, coaching, therapy, self help, we are talking about a process that can take 3 to 5 years.

Exiting depressive inertia can lead to 25 to 30 well-structured cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions. But completely changing the basis of negative nuclear beliefs can take up to 10 years. Of course, we always draw as a goal in the therapeutic process, achieve assertiveness with reality and not perfection. So it would be difficult for someone to spend more than 6 to 8 months straight on a process of cognitive-behavioral therapy focusing on the same problem. I just want to clarify that the change in these standards requires a profound process of change in the relationship with living.

In short, the basis of the movement of life is the escape from suffering. And this, there is no escape, in front of not moving, the choice is to suffer. But as long as the choice is by movement, if you suffer, running from fear, or if you dance the dance of life, this is a personal choice from the moment you decide to do it differently: theme or enjoy according to your choice.

Raul de Freitas Buchi

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