Everything about being alive is about having control over one’s environment. I believe that it is essentially our immune systems that direct our ability to maintain our lives by using all aspects of our body’s operation to ensure that our lives continue. If we were a much more primitive species, we would only be able to count on what this immunity provided to protect our cells for us. Because we are an advanced species, we also can use what resources our advanced brains provide.
We are not taught to consider that our nervous system, including our brain, is directly connected to our immune system. From my point of view, with emotions being direct indicators to us of how our conscious experiences are affecting us through immune system reactions, we can learn to recognize what these emotions are telling us. Because we are a complicated species, boiling down what we feel to the core emotions they are connected to, can be hard for us to do. We more often get stuck cycling the emotions and not accomplishing much of anything related to what they are telling us needs to be done to make our life better — and to give us more control over our environment and our interactions with it.
I found my way into ‘recovery’ through a 7 week inpatient alcoholism treatment program in 1980, and from there found my way through 12 step programs. I am aware of the controversy that continues about potential problems related to CONTROL. OOOHHH! The big bad “C” word, control. AND, the big bad “M” word, MANIPULATE.
Well, let me give you some important insider information. Without the ability to utilize both control and manipulation for our own self preservation we would, quite simply, be dead. It is not possible for us to delete these two words from our vocabulary and still be able to consider how we not only stay alive, but how we can be alive more efficiently and effectively. These are not peripheral or abstract concepts. They are at the core of everything about us.
I see the problems we might have with control and manipulation being related not to these fundamental operations themselves, but with our own degrees of denial of their essential existence and our resulting lack of conscious awareness of their life sustaining (well-being) or life obliterating (ill-being) powers. Because I am in my thinking always looking for the lowest possible common denominator, I can say that what we are really talking about when we consider both control and manipulation is a simple process of addition or subtraction.
If our bodies detect that we are under some form of threat they are essentially telling us through our immune system reactions that an imbalance is present in the form of a subtraction of resources, and that this depletion needs to be addressed. Something needs to be added to the equation to balance out the threat so that we can continue living, and to live more abundantly if at all possible.
If we have become so ‘advanced’ that we cannot recognize the signals our immune system gives us, cannot decipher what they mean, cannot take responsible self action to change the triggering situation and make things better, then we are at continual risk of keeping ourselves in environments of escalating threat and danger. In other words, we are forgetting what being a being in a body is all about.
We need to stop thinking of our immune system reactions as being handy but nonessential components of our existence. We cannot continue to separate and divide one part of our being from other parts of our being, and think we are somehow sophisticated because we can conquer our basic nature as living beings. Our bodies, brains, emotions, needs, wants, desires, illnesses, etc are not all separate parts of who we are. We are not worms. These parts we have divided from ourselves cannot go off and live satisfying lives on their own. Nor can we think we are disconnected from the entirety of the living environment. Such perspectives are not wise. Rather, they are destructive fantasies of childish minds.
Infancy and childhood are not states we are designed to remain in. We are designed to mature into reproductively fit adults so that we can proginate and then take adequate care of our progeny so that our species will endure. I believe that what is at the center of this wheel-of-life and what is at the hub, is simply — COMPETENCE. We are either competent members of our species or we are not. Dead center is dead center. It is the optimal state for any species, and there are no degrees of gray there.
If we are NOT at the dead center of competence so that we can live the best life possible, then everything we need to do is about making adjustments to get there so that we can become more competent. Control and manipulation are simply tools we use to get to center and to try to stay there and maintain that state. Because the living environment is constantly changing and being alive is not a static state, this moving toward (or away from?) dead center of optimal competence is the continual work of every organism.
The dead center of optimal experience, of being optimally competent, does not exist in a vacuum. Nor are we supposed to be navigating in pitch darkness, guessing randomly how close or how far we might be from this center. Reproductive fitness indicators of any species are the clear and definitive signs regarding the relationship an organism has to this center, and these indicators never lie.
If we have, as a supposedly wise species, so confused ourselves about what our reproductive fitness indicators are, what they mean, what they tell us, and what adjustments we are supposed to make regarding the information they tell us and our corresponding relationship to optimal, then we have little choice but to either inform ourselves and make required changes, or suffer — individually and as a species. Unfortunately, because we have such advanced powers to control and manipulate, we also cause the whole of the world to suffer right along with us.
Fortunately, we don’t have to twist ourselves into a never ending tangle of knots trying to figure out how to attack any problem that we might identify as keeping us from the optimal state of competence. We only have to look at the one thing that can tell us about the quality and condition of our reproductive fitness indicators: ATTACHMENT. Floundering around lost on any level will affect the quality of the attachments that we have to ourselves, our body, to one another as members of a social species, and to the world we are a part of. Degrees of incompetence manifest as corresponding impediments in the strength, quality and state of being attached — or not.
I do not make this argument metaphorically. The fact of the matter is that even before our conception the chemical interactions occurring within our mother’s body affect whether or not a sperm becomes fertile, whether it finds any particular egg and becomes attached with it, whether or not attachment occurs within the uterus, the quality of attachment the fetus experiences to the mother as it grows, and the nature of attachment to ‘what kind of world’ every step of the journey that individual experiences until its death.
The quality of attachment manifests itself in reproductive fitness indicators, which are themselves signs pointing to the quality of competence any organism experiences within the environment of its own body and within the corresponding environment of life itself.
Life is an interchange of resources occurring as a part of the particular context of the limitations and possibilities that exist in relationship with one another as a part of our planet. In this way we could say that all life that has been a part of this planet are its reproductive fitness indicators, each particular form sharing in the process of exchanging available resources.
Trauma is a part of life on our planet that occurs when any event causes a disruption in the ‘usual’ pattern of resource exchange among life forms. Any life form that has living cells will manifest an immune system response to the challenge of trauma. This response is an indication both that its preexisting competency state has been disturbed within its environment and that a competent adjustment to the challenge is required.
Because life occurs within the context of resources, either a life form has access to resources to adjust to changes within the context of their environment or they suffer — and/or die. Obviously resources are, well, resources themselves. Having the right resources to access the right resources is itself a resource. Having the ability to use the existing resources competently is also a resource. If the needed resources don’t exit, or if they aren’t available to you, or even if they are there but you don’t have the resources yourself to access and use them, the results are the same — a big “Uh Oh!”
This sounds like a circular process because it is one. Life forms can advance due to utilization of adequate resources as they have the resource of being able to competently utilize those resources, or they retreat in the opposite direction if the opposite situation exists. If a retreat is possible until conditions improve, life may continue. If not? You know the answer to that question.
Life is a DOING process. Life is sustained through what any life form does with resources. Competency is about controlling and manipulating resources for a life form’s best survival purposes. This process has been ongoing in balance because life’s corresponding interconnections through a mutual attachment to continued life has not been interrupted on a level that deprives ongoing life of its necessary resources.
Now enters the development of our human species. It is to the degree that we detach ourselves and unattach ourselves from life promoting processes that we upset ourselves and all of life that our actions thus affect. Pardon me, but I think we are rapidly approaching a point where our supposed advancement as a species is indicating that our incompetency is showing!
If we pay attention we will notice that all manner of our reproductive fitness indicators are telling us that we are mismanaging resources. Our incompetent mismanagement of resources is being reflected around us in the deterioration of reproductive fitness indicators within the context of life on this planet on ever increasingly levels and in ever more serious ways. We can try to remain children engaging in the wistful magical fantasy thinking of ignorance and denial, but that will not change the fact that all of us are being affected personally, as well.
If we pay attention on the personal level, our immune systems are telling us what this imbalance and mismanagement of available resources feels like. Yet we seem to be using what has evolved as one of our best resources against ourselves rather than for ourselves. Every evolving species has stored a capacity to remember how to survive in its genetic code so that ongoing members do not have to relearn the important big things every time a new generation comes along. As a result each generation can then avoid many sources of trauma and harm by acting according to the learnings remembered in their genes. The operational term here is AVOID.
Avoiding trauma, harm, distress and destruction is a very efficient way of manifesting competence. It seems to work well on every level of life except the highest one. Humans possess the most advanced brain on the planet. Yet its evolution has provided us with the most dangerous tool of all. We now have the ability to FORGET that which we have already learned by using the life sustaining ability to avoid remembering in new and creative ways.
This, to me, means that we have taken ourselves just about as far down the detachment road as we can safely go. Because we have this ability to ignore and avoid remembering (and competently acting upon) all the information we have gained during our entire evolution about what to avoid so that we can continue living, we are destroying whatever degrees of well being based on wise management of resources to sustain life that we worked so hard to get in the first place. We are so busy making ourselves stupid with forgetting that we are rapidly diminishing our powers to discover better ways of being in the world.
I started out writing today thinking that I was going to present the topic of courage, discouragement and encouragement. As I headed off into my woods of words the writing led me off in another direction. Yes, I am always surprised when this happens and never sure where exactly I made an alternative turn. But here I am, and here, too, are you if you have read this far. Did I forget where I was going?
I intended to say that saddened, despondent and rage filled people are having a difficult time accessing and using resources. I was going to say that feeling discouraged is meant only to be a short stopping place on our road of life. I was going to say that from there we can reconsider our goals, desires and intentions and then find new and creative ways to access and use available resources to forge ahead. I was planning to write about how we can encourage ourselves and one another in this process.
Now I see that I didn’t start out in the first place headed into a simple little wooded glen, nicely packed picnic basket in hand, to enjoy a sunny breezy spring day of meandering. I found myself on a wide road of stripped forests and polluted waters with garbage thrown, spread and littered all the way into space. I found death and deprivation and depletion along the sides of the road. True, there are little places of pretty glens of woods where portions of our world’s populations are able to tarry.
But on the larger scale I see that our species in in danger because we are using the available resources of our highly evolved brains to circumvent our ancient wisdom by forgetting to remember to avoid what will harm us. By abusing our most precious resource that is meant to sustain us, by incompetently mismanaging ourselves, we are at risk of creating a situation where we will have to learn what we are forgetting all over again.
It is important to remember that the best resource humans have to protect ourselves from the harmful wake of trauma is to avoid it in the first place. The next most important protective factor is the support of others close to us. As we alienate ourselves from the first we begin to deprive ourselves of the second. Unfortunately, we are well on our way to doing both.
Thank you for reading. Your comments are welcome and appreciated.