Welcome to TLJ – Tonterias Las Justas. Your weekly dose of common sense to live better. Express sessions (less than 15 mins) discussing sex, money, spirituality, relationships and some current events. Very practical and not politically correct.
To broaden our knowledge from last week’s chat, today we will cover the element that most often limits our capacity to think: fear! We will close with steps to strengthen our critical thinking.
Fear is a basic emotion designed to keep us save from harm. Between generalized stress and the fear that we drink daily, it’s no surprise that we increasingly think with less criterion. Fear has many faces and sometimes it masks itself as rage, sadness and other emotions. To have a wider framework of it, we are going to utilize the description of the six fears from the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I strongly encourage its reading, possibly one of the bibles in the self-help space, along with PsychoCybernetics. We will touch on both in future episodes. In this book, Napoleon Hill identifies six basic fears that limit a person’s potential.
1. Fear of poverty
2. Fear of criticism
3. Fear of illness
4. Fear of the loss of love
5. Fear of old age
6. Fear of death.
Curiously enough, fears represent deficits, poorly managed uncertainties and ignorance. Fear’s power is extraordinary because it leads us to the opposite action of what would in fact be helpful in a determined situation. Furthermore, fear provokes an unrivaled focus which only magnifies the element provoking the fear. Everything that you focus on grows, so choose well.
Keep in mind that fears are nothing more than learned systems of belief. If you learned something erroneous, you can update that belief with a new one.
Let’s dive into the details, starting with the fear of poverty.
Poverty not only refers to the economic elements that it clearly includes, rather it goes further to explain a mentality of lack. You’ve likely seen it on several occasions, the typical person with sufficient means, but stingy or always worried about losing their resources. They save their money as if there wasn’t sufficient for all or worst yet, as if they wouldn’t be capable of making more of it. This fear is fundamental, and it affects all of us up to a certain degree if we don’t treat it. According to Hill, the symptoms are indifference (or lack of ambition), indecision, doubt, worry, excessive precaution, and procrastination.
Continuing with the fear of criticism. From my point of view, one of the most devastating for a full life. Criticism is intrinsic to humans for the simple fact of analysis. At times, this criticism can be communicated in a destructive manner, of course, but it depends above all on how the receiver decides to interpret it. It seems as the most devastating to me because, regardless of what you do, it will always be subject of criticism from one group or another. If you fail to do what you want for fear of what others may say, all of your life will be subject to the expectations of others. To say it another way, to live for others, in the worst sense of the expression. Symptoms of this fear: shyness, lack of serenity, little personality, inferiority complex, extravagance, lack of initiative or lack of ambition.
Now on to the fear of illness. It is natural to want to avoid ill health but fearing it will do no more than lower your natural defenses making it easier and likely to fall ill. Remember, what you focus on, grows.
Symptoms include self-suggestions, hypochondria, poor adjustments to physical forms (this fear often times interferes with adequate physical exercise), susceptible, lack of moderation (seen in the habit of using alcohol or narcotics for aches instead of finding the root causes).
The next fear is the loss of love. Another common fear, whose poor management leads precisely to the non-desired goal. Persons afflicted by this fear tend to be more insecure and controlling, which easily leads to others wanting to distance themselves from that behaviour. The search for external security through the love of another drives to the destruction of love.
Symptoms of this fear are jealousy, search for imperfections and tendencies to want to “buy” love.
Let’s continue with the fear of old age. According to Hill, this fear could have to root causes, one is that old age will makes us poor (fear 1) and the other is that we have been socialized to think that old age is a time of overall decay. Repeating the beforementioned, this represents erroneous learning that needs an update. Our beliefs shape our reality; thus, it is vital to change that mentality for one that promotes of wellbeing.
Symptoms of this fear: tendency to limit activity and develop an inferiority complex in mature mental age, the habit of speaking of oneself asking forgiveness for “being old”, the habit of killing initiative, imagination and self-confidence.
And onto the last fear, death. In life there are few guarantees and one of them is death. Sooner or later, it’s our turn. There are increasingly more scientific advances to delay it, but as of today it is still a guarantee. Since it’s a guarantee that doesn’t respect age, socioeconomics, sex, race, etc. the appropriate thing is to prepare for it and have it present. If you live consciously that you have a finite time and you don’t know when it will end, more than likely you’ll make other decisions. There are many ways to prepare for it and those that you leave behind will be grateful for it and it is wise to take care of those matters the earlier the better. Of all the fears, it is my favourite because I think that assuming it, in order to live with more purpose can create a before and after in a person’s life. Each day, minute and second is a gift, make the most of it!
Symptoms of this fear: thinking of death before obtaining the maximum of life, apathy, illness, sickness, lack of appropriate occupation and amorous disillusionment.
I would add two more to the list: the fear of change and the fear of the truth. In the end, the fear of change is the root of all fears. In the same way that death is a guarantee, another guarantee in life is change. All change can sometimes be positive or negative, but above all, in large part it is under our control if we wake up to that reality. The best advice for change comes from the wise warrior, Bruce Lee: “be water”. The sooner that you assume that things change and that you will do everything within your power for it to be for the better, everything will evolve favorably. Remember that creativity is your super power and this power has no better opportunity to show off than before life’s changes.
Fear of truth is curious. Often, I see adults acting like the three monkeys that don’t see, hear or speak when confronted with new information. Sadly, this doesn’t help to foster persons that can contribute in a meaningful way to society. Regarding this last element, take into account that the sooner we have the courage to look a situation in the face, the sooner you’ll be able to take actions to change them. Ignorance doesn’t lead to happiness rather self-destruction.
These fears and all fear are programs that run in the background and affect how we interact in the world. I chose fear as the mayor barrier to think critically because it blocks us, incapacitates our evaluation of a situation for what it really is and its direct, secondary and tertiary effects. Fear promotes ignorance, our stubbornness and it blinds us. Since it is such a basic emotion it is easy to use it against us and there is no better example than the current trend of the media in recent decades. It has gone from informing to selling the corresponding propaganda. It’s more evident today, but it has been going on for years. And since everything that is repeated sufficiently becomes true, there is no need for the data to be accurate. We are all susceptible of being manipulated by fear, but knowing it is the first step to taking distance and beginning to value things for yourself.
Our point of reflection for today: What fears are controlling you? Why and for what?
I’m not going to go into detail on fear management. This subject can take up several episodes. I’m just going to tell you this, face your fears head on and know that you ARE always bigger than them, but that depends on you.
And to close with our subject of critical thinking. Regardless of how much time we have for research, we all have the capacity to observe and evaluate data from a point of view of utility and common sense. Moreover, these elements often prove to be the most reliable tools. Take into account that everything should be evaluated periodically. Try following these 5 steps.
1. Define the problem. This is complicated, but try to go as deep as possible to the root in order to adequately determine the factors to take into account.
2. What are your opinions and experiences related to it? Are they your own or inherited? If they are external, where do they come from? Everything plays a role, hence it’s vital to identify your biases as soon as possible.
3. Take a step back. Observe the situation from the outside. Where are the errors in logic and practice? In what contexts do they apply? What are its positive and negative effects? Who dictates it? What are the interests? Put it in context with history.
4. Find new information. Often, the most reliable sources are not the ones that reach the masses. Watch out for the economic ties of your sources. Neutrality is put into question depending on who is financing. To be practical, make an effort to speak with humility and earnest curiosity with people that have different opinions or facts to learn about other points of view. Just in case you don’t know, Google is not a neutral search engine. I’ll leave suggestions in the program notes. [Duckduckgo, Tor, HTTPS Everywhere, Comodo Dragon, Brave]
5. Decide with what you have. With the information that you have consciously gathered, decide what is the best application to the root problem, which possibly has changed in the course of your investigation. Although you adopt an opinion or posture, know that this is not permanent, and you always have the right to change opinions as you come across new data and experiences. This grace and tolerance is the same that we ought to extend to others while they are in their process.
In the event that the beforementioned steps do not seem feasible for the whatever reason, the rule to ask more question always applies. You will ask questions that are likely not being asked yet or there are no sources with answers. Nevertheless, utilizing this tactic keeps you alert before possible assaults on your logic, fear mongering and manipulation.
The key to these steps is intentionality. Some processes, returning to last week’s tale, are like elephants: with a bit of effort, you have seen it. However, other processes are like continents and they will take your whole life to understand them. That is why we assume positions based on the information that we acquire. Although it may seem that this produces wishy washy people, it is completely the contrary. Being humble and recognizing that I’m doing X based on the information I have today is honest and congruent. To say otherwise will become a lie in no time. If you’re in need of examples, I direct you to politics. And if everything up until this point seems like a lot of work, let me remind you that no one said that being a real adult, coherent and happy was easy. The things that matter require effort. Living the life that you desire, if it requires that you don’t lose your freedom and capacity to create, has never been more at play than today. So, take a deep breath and let’s get to work.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Socrates “an unexamined life is not worth living”. Don’t lose the liberty that your mind offers you. Ask yourself why and for what, you do things and whether it is to live in greater congruence and plentifulness. I’ll see you next week where we’ll talk about orgasms. Ciao.