By Adam Crosthwaite
Fear can block us all from living a complete life. The fear of an unknown can become an unnecessary trial for the mind and heart to endure if one does not chose to embrace the fear rather than live under the influence of an unknown. The embracing of fear comes when one accepts the knowledge of a limitation thus opening them to the probability that they will overcome the fearful situation. The acceptance of fear is to move through it, not to allow it to move through you taking control over the reasoning faculty by hot wiring the emotional portions of the psyche. It has been hard for me to comprehend this phenomenon. It was when I was presented with a situation where I was in fact blocking myself from experiencing life with the shield of fear that I created with a false belief for many years. Through the teaching and guidance I have been blessed with during my studies in the Art of Qabala I have come to an abstract understanding of this phenomenon and how it played a central part in my life over the years. Still with this understanding I was missing a part of the picture that would give an opening for me to express the abstract concept in a form suitable for communication in the physical world. This form was sorely missed as it was and continues to be a focal point in my growth as a human being.
I was given a new focal point for expression during one of my courses in Business Communications. By attention having a focus in an area that required some personal growth I found myself polarized into a situation that lead me toward a new understanding. The effect of attraction literally brought me face to face with not only a fresh perspective but challenged me to face off with one of my own personal fears, a fear it turns out was shared by someone very close to me.
During an assignment for my course in communications I was introduced to Social Judgment Theory. I was so excited about this topic that when I was invited to write a paper on a topic of my choosing I dug right into this one. Social Judgment Theory was like candy for my mind! It gave me a perspective by which to explore and elaborate my understanding of life and experiences with people as well as insight into myself. This may sound silly to most people but this was indeed a breakthrough for me to be able to express an understanding in a way that is comprehendible and usable in further dialog with my writing and correspondence with the world.
Social Judgment Theory encompasses the taboos, folk ways and morays of society and is a subjective frame of reference through which people perceive the world around them. The points at which we internalize experiences to form beliefs are known as internal anchors. Internal anchors are also referred to in neurological terms as Meta Tags. These anchors are psychological impressions imprinted in the personality and ego by cultural influences as well as life experiences which include both positive events and traumatic experiences.
The majority of these anchors are pliable or in other words they are not so rigid that a person may not be accepting of new concepts as long as the new concept is within their latitude of acceptance. This latitude of acceptance may be looked at as a parameter that surrounds this anchor point. Within the parameter several concepts which closely match the nuances of the anchor point may be introduced and a person may be swayed to agree with a concept or view that may be of contrast to their previous point of perception. This realignment may occur with only a minor or even greater range depending on the fixity of their anchor point. Another way of looking at this is to use the example of suggestive advertising and/or subliminal communications which use Meta Tags.
As it turns out I had a fixed anchor point that was an effect I had been polarized toward which set quite a bit of imbalance in my perception of things. I was in an invisible prison of fear that could only be unlocked by facing that fear and embracing the truth that waited intently for me on the other side.
This fear was exposed in the open as I attempted to set a new order into my life by seeking out my dad whom I never had the chance to know. For over a year I had been looking for my birth father. I spent countless hours online looking up old addresses and names trying to find a man I never knew. I now see the fear that kept me from meeting him was not my own. As time effort drew us closer to each other I spoke with him for the first time on the phone. I realized that I had adopted a fear as my own like an inheritance passed down by relatives. I can not speak on the origin of this fear or even if it is a rational fear, for it was originally not my own. It is a fear that only secrets can breed and I was not privileged to information that would lend insight into this fear. Many things from my past as a child had been set aside by those around me and conveniently forgotten as to insulate me from the knowing I so desperately had been seeking but lacking in my fear. All I know is this fear was based on an anchor point that may never be swayed and has little if any latitude of acceptance. As much as I do know, it was misplaced on my part for reasons I have yet to uncover, but I will continue the internal as well as external dialogue with this subject to continue my growth and to understand this as much as I can.
If not for the drive to uncover my fear and face the truth that awaited me on the other side I would have never met my dad. For years I had wondered if I was going to learn about my paternal line. Now that I had found a way to connect with my past I could understand more of my present and see part of what was to come. I cannot express in words the feeling of embracing the man I only knew in stories and learning the other side of the story from the man himself. For years I was told about the negative aspects of a man I never knew and was conditioned to fear. Yes, there is a past full of pain and regret, but amends has been made and a future can be built on a stronger, new foundation. And after fifteen years from the last time we talked I was reunited with my dad.
It seemed fitting that this reunion occurred during the week I was to write my paper on Social Judgment Theory, seeing how it was a social judgment on the part of family that kept us out of contact for nearly twenty seven years. The idea of Social Judgment Theory continues to aid me in my quest to shed light into dark corners of my mind that thirst for illumination.
There is a continuation in this world of anchor points that plague our society with unhealthy views and perceptions. One of the biggest anchor points I see in society today, especially in my generation, is the concept of rebelling against authority. In my own struggle against authority I have seen my world crumble time and time again. David, being the ever patient and caring mentor, continues to sit with me in an ever evolving dialogue on this topic. The Qabalistic tradition teaches us that when we rebel against authority we eventually end up rebelling against ourselves. This happens because we are ultimately in charge of our own life. We are our own authority. As we rebel against ourselves we end up undoing all that we have worked for.
While it is healthy to question authority we lack prudence which is more often overlooked than exercised, it is merely left out of the equation. Thus no buffer is left to protect against fallacious reasoning and the behaviors it is accompanied by. If we are to gain dominion over the lives we share, perhaps it would be prudent to exercise the concepts that are learned in the study of such theories such as Social Judgment Theory.
If we are to apply the meaning of questioning authority to social judgment we would need to examine the perception of the authority as it seemingly stands. We would also need to examine our personal perception and frame of reference in relation to authority. In short we should be questioning perception, not authority. It is in the perception of authority that we find our struggles and personal internal anchors, not in the toe to toe stand off with an opposing perception. Do you remember the student who asked the Master how to fight with out fighting? If you remember, the Master said, “You watch.”
How do we break out of the destructive cycle of self-rebellion? We watch! We discern for ourselves the false perceptions and destructive tendencies of self inflected rebellions. We correct our own errors by questioning the perception and examining the full picture.
The goal is to break the cycle of unipolarization and release our locked perception to navigate closer to the balance that exists in the middle path, or in other words, stop being so damn one sided all the time! Then we can experience freedom from the effects of unhealthy anchor points that hinder our progress through life. Of course we are always free to remain locked in the stalemate of fear and be consumed by the wailing and gnashing of teeth as we attempt to insulate from the discomfort of truth. At times it may appear that the most difficult anchors are those based in fear, especially in cases where as the fear is ego evolved and the thought of being wrong is the anchor itself. It is in the journey through the perception of fear that the fear is exposed and can be dealt with accordingly, be it with professional help or a mentor.
We may never find ourselves in a society free from misperceptions and fallacious beliefs. We may find ourselves at odds with our own authority thus backed into a corner with a seemingly no win situation. However, if we learn to question the perceptions of our authority and the authority we freely place in the hands of others from time to time, we may gain clear insights and intimate healthy changes in our own worlds so we may share them as a society. The Socratic method David uses and teaches his students has been the crux of our learning and, while I may not speak for my fellow students, I find myself lead by this life line through some of the deepest and darkest of waters.
We will never overcome the fear that divides us from the truth until we are polarized toward that truth. In order to achieve that we must focus our abilities to question and use that strength to set a new order into our lives as I have been taught by my Mentor and the teachings of Qabala.
I would like to leave you with a quote from a favorite song of mine. It is a song about a man who spends his life looking for and waiting for someone or something that is missing from his life. He wades through torments and fears along his path, yet he holds to one simple rule that keeps him from fleeing the path he has chosen to walk. It is a constant reminder to me of where I have been and where I will be going.
“If I close my mind in fear, please pry it open…”
– Metallica, Outlaw Torn
May you find the anchors that weigh you down and keep you in the darkest depths, and may we all be able to share in a world blessed by truth along with the courage to uphold that truth.