We drift through life alert, seeking signals from the environment. We interact with the surrounding world and react. Our biological systems make key assessments to balance resources. We have unconscious expectations of the world. When experience registers as detrimental to safety, we feel emotional discomfort—or outright pain. The threat to our well-being knocks our assessments off kilter. We are out of balance. Our nice and ordered trajectory must be changed, demanding extra resources. How we respond to these moments determines whether we will growth or pull back.
Insightful reflection, drawing upon facts, pulls us towards realities. As a result, we discover aspects about ourselves by delving deeper into these interactions with the world. From a point of safety, self-knowledge can instruct. We address weakness and compassionately accept limitations. But when experience threatens, we may prefer escape. Hating the emotional discomfort, we avoid self-knowledge, cover our eyes and pretend to be something we are not.
“From a point of safety, self-knowledge can instruct. We address weakness and compassionately accept limitations.”~T. Franklin Murphy
This reactionary response is largely unconscious. We blindly dodge responsibility, avoiding facts, and angrily demand more out of life. We live in a false reality in the shallow depths of an unfulfilled life.
A Secure Base
We can’t just haphazardly endure pain. We need an intimate knowledge we are safe. This is why defense mechanisms are so hideous. And consequently, lose contact with reality. From attachment theory, researchers discovered the importance of a secure base. A secure base is an emotionally safe place where we are secure. For most, this is home. However, some live in toxic environments where physical and emotional safety are abused.
If we have no place of safety, we fight emotional discomforts in our mind. We enact mechanisms to diffuse the emotional discomfort. Defensive mechanisms often spill over into many areas of our lives. For some, any sign of imperfection, sets off the alarms, emotional discomforts arouse defensive reactions, and they scramble to cover their blemish.
A Better Response
We can do better, constructively responding to experience. Above all, we can limit pain through measured reasoning, relying on accumulating information. Our interactions with experience provide a wealth of information to carefully examine.
Through purposeful thought, giving attention to reality, we can unveil hidden biases and protective justifications. If we can stomach the emotional discomfort of our humanness, we become self-aware of felt experience, observing our mental activity, reactionary defenses, and associated external triggers. As I have noted, by taking personal inventory, past experience becomes more accessible.
We can sort through associations, extracting wisdom from the past. Thereafter, purposeful thought brings out hidden patterns to consciousness, exposing the selfishness of the ego, shining light on clandestine activities.
We don’t need to manipulate the felt experience of living, pretending each moment is a foray into a field of daisies. Some experiences are discomforting. Only through facing discomfort can we gather enough wisdom to better our lives, improving realities, and prepare for futures.