This post is about The Great Tragedy. The Great Tragedy is when your strategies and patterns work, and bring everything you hoped they would.
In the beginning, you were simply light, born with a fundamental essence. More specifically, you were simply a set of ways of being. Qualities that were yours and yours alone. There was nothing to do — you didn’t even know what doing was. You just /be’d/.
Over time, you were given training that certain parts of who you were, were not okay. This training came in a whole variety of forms. Having your parents ignore you when you needed love and comforting, being punished when you showed up a certain way, and many other forms of feedback.
When we get trained this way, we end up creating a set of particular fears — fears about who we are not. Put differently, we develop fears that we may not be the very thing we are — fears of not being enough of whatever essential quality it is that makes you up.
People with the gift of Brilliance tend to fear being (or looking, or discovering that they are) stupid.
People with the gift of Generosity tend to fear being selfish.
People with the gift of Love tend to fear being cruel.
People with the gift of Connection tend to fear being awkward and disconnected.
It’s a silly, irrational fear, of course, because it would be a little bit like my dog fearing that he is not “dog” enough (just to be clear, he’s very “dog”). But fears /are/ irrational, and that’s simply how it is.
From our fears, we create compensatory strategies. Patterns, habits, techniques, and other ways of showing up in the world that allow us to mitigate, compensate for, and avoid any confrontation with these fears.
Some of the strategies I created to manage my fear of looking stupid included: consuming knowledge voraciously, learning how to become very effective in argument and debate, and using condescension and undermining to bring people down a peg when I felt intimidated by their intellect. (If I can bring you down, I can rest secure in the fact that I’m smarter than you.)
Some of the strategies someone with the gift of Love might create to avoid their fear of being cruel could include: learning to pile sweet-ness on top of any anger they may feel, burying and numbing any anger they feel by eating, numbing or substance-abuse, and saying yes to many many things so that they are always contributing (though, at a risk of burning themselves out.)
These strategies aren’t even necessarily bad things. There are plenty of times in life where a willingness to spend hours learning about something, or contributing in many ways to a community can be a positive thing. The trouble starts when these become automatic patterns of behaviour.
You start to lose your choice, and instead, as soon as your fear gets triggered, you’re “on rails”. There’s no choice left for you, it’s purely an automatic reflex.
All that being said, our strategies work for us. They are designed not only to compensate for our fear, but also to get us whatever external results serve to disprove our fears. If you’re afraid of being irrelevant, your strategies will not only attempt to alleviate that experience — they will also serve to draw attention to you, and possibly even get you fame and money (good external factors for disproving a fear of irrelevance).
We use these strategies to create thriving lives, whatever thriving looks like in response to your fears. If you have a fear of being irrelevant and failing, you will create a life that is filled with external results that serve to disprove those fears. Money, fame, accolades, a huge bank account, etc. Whatever it is that your fears demand, your strategies will help you gather those.
We’re basically playing life in order to /not lose/ rather than in order to win.
And this is where the The Great Tragedy lies. When our strategies work, they provide us all of the external results, and yet they are all fabricated in reaction to our fears, and ultimately out of an avoidance of confronting those fears.
There is no amount of external results that you can ever amass that will dispel a fear that has been created internally.
A different way to say that is that you can never get enough of what you don’t really need.
The tragedy comes when your strategies work, and allow you to amass more and more around you, leaving you feeling less and less fulfilled. Like a miser, scared of losing all of his money, building ever more complex security systems, none of it is ever enough. In fact, the more money he makes, the greater his fear — but hang on, wasn’t the point of amassing wealth to feel secure?
Over time, because we don’t have any of this distinguished, we keep trying to use our strategies to create a different result, but it can never work — you’ll never really win when you are playing a game to avoid losing. The Great Tragedy keeps us caught in this karmic loop. Because it keeps generating results for us, we think we’re getting closer and closer to what we really crave — but it’s asymptotic, meaning you can never, /ever/ cross over to the life you crave from these strategies alone.
There’s not much to do with The Great Tragedy, other than to distinguish it. What is it your strategies and patterns make you utterly reliable to create in your life? What do you seem to be able to amass around you? And what fears might that alleviate?