I’m going to simplify this “problem” of how to make foundations stick by analyzing it through the four models of growth discussed in my book: Polarity; Objective vs. Subjective Reality; Levels of Consciousness; and Truth, Love, and Power.
This article covers the first two models. The second two will be covered in Part Six.
I’ve eluded to Polarity several times in this series already. Polarity refers to the “light” and “dark” sides within each of us. In each moment, you must choose which side you will align with—either love, or fear.
If you choose love, you choose to believe that you are fundamentally and unconditionally safe here. Perhaps your body can be damaged and can die, but the essence of who you are (i.e. consciousness, spirit, God—some non-physical entity) cannot be threatened—certainly not by anything in the physical realm. You choose to trust in yourself and in life. You are secure with being who you are. You see the world around you as basically friendly: this is a win-win existence. Aligning with love tends to feel uplifting and pleasurable, and can come with an experience of joy, playfulness, a sense of being deeply connected to life, and feeling safe and loved.
On the other hand, if you choose to align with fear, you choose to believe that the world around you is not only dangerous, but hostile. The physical world poses a constant threat to your well-being, success, and survival. Trust is foolish. At the end of the day, there are no true allies. If you are to survive and thrive in this world, you must dominate it. You have to take all that you can for yourself. You must control other people, and get them to do your bidding. They are your mere pawns. You are amoral—the ends always justify the means. As such, it is fine to step on anyone who gets in your way. Besides—if you don’t step on them, they will likely step on you.
You are concerned primarily with extrinsic motivators, such as money, social status, and corporate position. With fuel as your fear, you spring into action when you must combat threats to your prestige, status, and overall existence. Your focus is on not losing, rather than winning. In this dog-eat-dog world you must prove yourself and come out on top if you are to have a fighting chance. Many people want to see you lose, and you will have to disappoint them.
On the path of fear, you have to learn how to be civil enough to get by. In other words, you can’t be too destructive and too hated—otherwise, social forces will hold you back from getting what you want (don’t break the law, wise guy. And if you do, be quiet about it). In addition to proving yourself, you tend to get occupied with thoughts of revenge. Either way, what’s important is having your way and being #1—no matter what happens to your enemies.
Love and Fear Clash
I’m not incredibly familiar with the world of professional martial arts, but in the recent UFC fight between Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey, it looks like love and fear were pitted against each other. Ronda has referred to herself as an “antagonist,” and has expressed a marked aversion to losing (particularly in regards to her 3rd place finish at the Olympics some time ago). On the Joe Rogan Experience, she said something to the effect of, “Heroes don’t do anything—they just react to what the villains do.”
On the contrary, in a recent interview, Holly reported telling Rousey after knocking her out, “You know I really admire you for being such a great, dominant champion… None of us would be here without you, so I appreciate you.”
Part of the reason I use this example is to show that the lines of fear and love aren’t all that clear-cut. Ronda isn’t some movie villain who lives high up in a castle in Transylvania, where she is plotting to put together an army of flying monkeys to take over the world with. In addition to fighting, she has acted in movies; and, while she does receive a good deal of criticism, she is generally well-respected.
Similarly, Holly Holm isn’t like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, coming along to defend her friends against the flying monkeys, pour water over the Wicked Witch of the West, and then click her heels together to return home. After all, she is a fighter, and she did give Ronda a hard kick to the face.
The point is, while we may have movie-esque ideas of what the embodiments of love and fear look like (i.e. heroes and villains, or “lightworkers” and “darkworkers”), we can find examples of them right here in our solid, physical world.
Considering that Holly is one of the most love-based mixed martial artists on the planet, while Ronda is one of the most fear-based adds some extra zest to this fight. It can also explain how they each have become two of the most powerful female fighters on Earth. Love and fear are motivators—the more aligned you are with either one (not both—just one), the more motivated and thus powerful you are bound to be. These two women have been masterful at cultivating power—they have simply taken different paths to doing so is all.
In spite of these different paths, both Ronda and Holly are regarded as people of excellence. They have commanded far more respect and have built much more skill than most people will ever know.
It’s exciting to see this clash between love and fear. By pushing each other to step up and do their best, Ronda and Holly have advanced the sport of women’s MMA. As a female athlete myself, it’s inspiring to see not only that women can reach such high levels of skill, power, and honor, but also that they have received so much attention. In most sports most of the time, women’s leagues take a backseat to men’s. But, for once, it seems to be the opposite.
While I prefer to align with Love, I have no reason to regard Ronda as “evil” or an enemy in any way. In fact, I respect a solid Fear-alignment, as opposed to something more ambivalent. Ronda is a kick-ass athlete who has worked hard, and I admire her drive to improve herself—even if I wouldn’t use the same motivators as her. She has been a powerful force in advancing not just women’s MMA, but women’s sports in general (and perhaps all sports). She has lived as an example of how courageous, hardworking, committed, and dominant a woman can become, and how a person can turn their life around (she lived in a car and worked as a bartender for some time). These all are things to be respected.
Perhaps Ronda made a good point. While I would disagree with the idea that heroes do nothing but react, the basic idea that fear can push love to step up holds true (and one to be taken seriously, as we now have seen). Holly trained hard for this fight—to the point of tears, and more than once. In the end, it made her a more powerful person. Now, Ronda is likely to step up her game by improving her striking (punching and kicking) skills—the very skills which were used against her.
Even if their skill levels were the same as they are now, this fight would have been different if it was between two darkworkers (like Ronda) or two lightworkers (like Holly). At the very least, it probably wouldn’t have generated as much press. But on top of that, Holly might not have been quite as driven to train so hard, and Ronda might not be quite as ravenous for a rematch. No one can say for certain, but, conflicts between love and fear tend to amplify and further polarize both sides. This one certainly doesn’t “prove” that love is “better” than fear, but it is a case where love indeed won out.
Love, Fear, and Foundations
Polarity is a highly important part of laying down foundations that stay in place. Know your priorities. Do you want to create good health, or fight off poor health? Do you want to boost your energy, or prevent a drop in energy?
That’s just the beginning. Why are you making this change? Do you want to have fun and be your best, or do you want to dominate and defeat others?
How about after you’ve begun making the change? Will you inspire and educate those who are curious, or will you defend against those who criticize and do the opposite of you?
The more polarized you are, the more powerful and motivated you will be. You don’t have to choose to whole-heartedly commit yourself either to the light or to darkness for the rest of your life at this very instant. You can start by applying one side just to the change you want to make. However, recognize that the choice you make here will spill over into other areas of your life, and that you are making a decision between love and fear in every moment—even if you don’t realize it.
No one can tell you what to do here. Remember from Part Four that beliefs justify and perpetuate themselves, so you can’t make a choice that is inherently wrong (i.e. incorrect or immoral). All I suggest is that you absolutely capitalize on whichever side you choose.
If you go with the light side, consider getting people to help you and to join you in making this change. You can share about your journey on social media, a blog, YouTube videos, or simply with the people around you. Get healthy so you can enjoy life more, go after your goals, and have more fun with your family.
If you go with the dark side, make a bet with someone. If you lose the bet, you have to give your money to a person or organization that you vehemently oppose. Get healthy so you can do a better job of competing with and dominating other people. Take whichever side sounds tastier to you and run with it like wild. If you reach a point where your choice feels wrong to you, know that you can turn around and try the other side, but you will have to start over. Remember—you can only choose one at a time. The more you alternate your choices, the less powerful you’ll be.
If you find love at your core, choosing fear at any given moment will paralyze you. When you choose fear while writing, you will probably stop writing until you choose love again. In the meantime you’ll be busy trying to distract yourself. On the other hand, if you’re the son of the devil, choosing love could lead to the end of your empire. Too many fluffy emotions will seep through the cracks and you won’t know how to handle them.
Whenever you switch sides, be aware that, at least for the moment, what you have built based on your chosen polarity will be frozen and degraded. This is not to be abhorred, however, because it is inevitable. One of the lessons you are here on Earth to learn is to know which polarity you can choose consistently. You may never reach the point of 100% perfection, but you can improve. As long as you remain diligent and continue to choose consciously, you will get better at this.
Overall, it is wise to know your own motives. You can use this knowledge to form a path of change, based on either fear or love, that is well-suited to you and to what you care about.
Objective vs. Subjective Reality
Subjective Reality was discussed in Part 3 and Part 4 of this series. Simply stated, subjective reality is the idea that beliefs are choices, and beliefs create reality. This is because the fundamental substance of reality is not physical matter, but consciousness.
As a conscious being, in this way you are one with the whole of reality. Subjective reality meshes well with the Love polarity, because both assert that you are something other than a physical body. This is what makes the Love polarity worthy of its title: because everything is contained within consciousness (including your physical body and all of your thoughts and experiences), you are one with all things. Thus, it is in your best interest to help and to heal this world, because in so doing you are also helping and healing yourself.
For that reason, it makes sense to practice Love and the Subjective perspective at the same time. The problem with using Love alongside a conventional Objective perspective is that, in an objective reality, the essence of who you are is a physical being. This means that you can not only be fundamentally harmed by forces in the physical world, but you also will die. Thus, you are not fundamentally safe here. With that outlook, how much can you trust in others and in life itself? To what extent can you really live as the embodiment of love itself?
Whatever you conclude to be the truth about the fundamental nature of reality, the subjective perspective can instill in you an inclination to look beneath the surface and consider what is happening at the non-physical level. Rather than see a job as something you do to make money, you consider whether that job is aligned with your values and with higher principles. Before committing to a certain form of work, you’ll sniff out whether the atmosphere is filled with love or with fear. When you talk to people, you’ll wonder more often what qualities they are presently embodying—greed, transparency, laziness, vanity, altruism, authenticity, openness, close-mindedness, rigidity, envy, caring, commitment, ambivalence, etc. As the simultaneous creator and experiencer of this reality, the subjective perspective encourages you to become more self-aware, so that you may create with more competence and experience with more enjoyment. Because you are one with this reality, as you become more self-aware, you will become more aware of the true motives and feelings of others.
Subjective Reality Cultivates Honesty
In addition to solidifying an alignment with Love, the subjective perspective can help you to lay a stable foundation by placing your focus on the non-physical, and thus making you more aware of your motives and true desires in each moment. With practice and time, you will develop a keener sense of when you are kidding yourself, and when you need to change course.
In a subjective reality, lying to yourself comes with the consequence of the reality working against your favor; so, you will find it in your interest to become more honest with yourself. When you are honest with yourself you can cultivate integrity, meaning that you can figure out and commit to the course of action which will be best for you.
The subjective perspective also makes it easier to choose rules, standards, and guiding principles which you are both likely to agree and follow through with and benefit from. When you try to establish a foundation purely through the objective perspective, you may become overwhelmed by data and doubt that the option you are choosing will work—or that any option will do very much for you at all. This is a common dilemma in dieting: people hear so much about how pretty much any eating-related decisions will kill them that they decide no one really knows what they’re talking about and it makes no difference what you eat, so they continue eating the way they always have.
In a subjective reality, however, it would make no sense to rely on external authority—and certainly not in such a half-assed way. This doesn’t mean you ignore the research and the anecdotes of others. Instead, all of those things are passed through the ultimate authority—your own intelligence. Continuing to do things as you always have and saying that there are no rules because so-called experts cannot reach a consensus on what the rules are is NOT a demonstration of intelligence. That’s dumb. That’s pretending you can cheat in a game where the only player is you, because you’re the only one who decides what goes in your body. You may like to imagine that you’re outwitting a few crazed health gurus somewhere “out there”; but, please, tell me—where exactly are they? Do you know? Have you met them? Who are you really fooling here? Who’s the one who will be stuck on the toilet for half an hour after wolfing down a whole pizza?
The point here is that, if you could just get honest with yourself, you could probably figure out that you should do something different than what you are currently doing. When you brush vapid overconfidence to the side and strip away the meaning you currently see in your situation, all you may get is a subtle inclination. Just a feeling—something you can’t put into words. So far, it’s been too quiet.
In that feeling lies the truth about your situation. What if you went with it? What would you do? If you took a step back from your fears, desires, and racing surface-thoughts for a moment (it may do to choose Love here), and you simply let truth arise, what would it say? What would that inner voice tell you is really going on here? What would it tell you to do? Would it tell you that your relationship is dead, and you’ve stuck around only for the occasional moment of cooperation? Would it tell you that the constant stomach cramps you have are the result of the food you’re eating, and that no doctor or pill will be able to fix this problem? Would it tell you that you’re not as skillful and wise as you think you are? Would it tell you that you’ve been too self-absorbed? Would it tell you that the only way to succeed is to fully commit and to put in the hard work? What would it say?
This inner voice is your intelligence, and it serves as the primary authority of your reality. You may think it is dangerous to consider yourself as such a high authority, but when you lead yourself astray it’s only because you let fear, false desire, and petty matters get in the way. Your intelligence won’t lead you to immediate external success, but that’s not the point. We are talking about a reality where the non-physical is primary, after all.
Acknowledge All the Data
The point, in subjective reality, is to experience what you want to experience. The way this tends to play out runs contrary to the initial predictions you might have about it. At first, you think that if you lived like that, you would experience a lot of sex, pizza-eating, sleeping, and dazed TV-watching.
And, you know, maybe you would. I can’t tell you want you want. But I can tell you what I want. When activities such as eating and sleeping are at the top of my to-do list, and I take them (along with sexual fantasies, of course) to excess, it’s usually because I’m trying to avoid something else. At the end of the day these things aren’t all that fulfilling, and when I spend a lot of my time engaging in them I become distressed and frustrated, and I feel depleted.
It’s not that these things are bad. But they feel a lot better when they fall by the wayside of an otherwise eventful and enjoyable day, rather than at the forefront of my day.
What is truly fulfilling to me- what I actually like to experience- is to act on my ideas and my intuition, to work hard, to challenge myself, to go on adventures, and to learn new things. I like the feeling of using a lot of energy to create something I care about, such as an article like this.
Certainly I do shrink from these experiences at times. But it’s not because I’m “naturally” lazy. When I become ambivalent and afraid, it’s often because I’m caught up in things that don’t really matter from the subjective perspective, such as reputation. If I was so worried 100% of the time by my assumptions of what other people think of me (yes, that’s all they are—assumptions), I wouldn’t have bought 30 pounds of bananas at once yesterday, and I wouldn’t get to enjoy the lovely experience of eating them in large quantities and feeling energized as a result.
Maybe the experience of eating a pizza is considered more “normal” and seems more desirable to you, but for me that experience came with pain, sluggishness, and overall feeling disgusting. Sure, I used to enjoy the taste of pizza. But the whole package of the experience of eating pizza made the taste not worth my while. So, now I decide not to have that experience anymore.
Acting based on what you want to experience is actually even simpler than that. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings while eating a certain food. Those will give you some clues as to whether you really like this experience or not. What’s going on in that noggin of yours? Are you thinking, “Wow, eating this way feels so great! I feel so energized and alive! This food feels so clean in my body. This food loves me! Woohoo!” Or, do you think, “Oh, geez—here we go again… Any minute now I’m going to go brain-dead. I’ll feel groggy, confused, and tired. I feel gross already. The oil is seeping out of my body. Why do I do this to myself?”
Truth be told, asking those questions just now makes me consider whether I should continue eating oatmeal. That’s the only culprit in my diet that comes to mind: everything else seems okay (right?). I’m a bit surprised, but at the same time, well, not really. I only have to look to my experiences to see that this conclusion has been staring me in the face.
Figuring out what you really want to experience is largely a matter of getting in touch with those thoughts that swim around just beneath the surface. For whatever reason- some aversion to change- you may not want to acknowledge those thoughts, but I can assure you that they are there. They are data, and ignoring data does not lend itself to discovering the truth.
Of course, those thoughts about how This pizza tastes so darned good is data as well, but sometimes we make the mistake of thinking this is the only internal data available. It’s not. You have other thoughts and feelings on the manner as well, and you need only make use of your intelligence to recognize them.
All in all, choose foundations (rules, standards, guiding principles) which are in line with what you want to experience. If you conclude, as I did, that eating foods with strange ingredients in them creates an undesirable experience for you (the example I first discussed in Part One), then let a commitment to avoiding such foods serve as the foundation of a healthier diet. I know, it will be hard at first. But look at it this way: if you are leaving behind an undesirable experience, and you are making the choice you deem to be intelligent, isn’t this worth it? Aren’t you finally doing what works for you? Won’t your experience become more enjoyable? Isn’t that a reason to celebrate?
To Be Continued
While Polarity and Subjective Reality do a good job of covering the bases of the next two models, Levels of Consciousness and Truth, Love, and Power, the latter two deserve to be explained and explored thoroughly. So, to keep this article from becoming too bloated, I’ll save those for a Part Six.
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