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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What Is the Almost Inescapable Trap of Success?



In another conversation with the wisest man I know, he provided an insightful view of what it has meant to be human. From childhood, we are told what it means to be human. Except, no one knows how the idea of being human was created. And we live with the belief that what we have learned about being human is the truth that has been written in stone.

In this conversation he got straight to the point. It was as though he had been waiting with abated breath to expound on his discoveries and recite them to me in a way that would disrupt what I called reality.

He said the following: People seek
security, whether it’s food, shelter or love. They will do anything to survive in a world where they believe security is scarce. Why? A long, long time ago humans lived precarious lives. There were many dangers. Even though we were predators in the food chain, we were also prey to lions, tigers, alligators, bears, etc. While they are still a physical threat to us today, in the past, mankind lacked suitable shelter and technology to protect themselves from these beasts. In addition, we were at the mercy of nature, whether it was rain, snow, tornados, etc.

In the beginning, man and beast shared the same environment and competed for food and shelter. As you can imagine, the sense of safety and security would have been low. It would have been a life of looking over your shoulder. To remedy that, it would have made sense to live in numbers. That way people would have a fighting chance to defend themselves against large predators, build suitable shelter and experience affinity.

Our minds would have been as aware of our surroundings as a squirrel eating an acorn. At any moment, we would have to fight or take flight. In other cases, people froze and became a meal for a large animal.

When adults raised children in that environment, it would have been logical to teach them about the dangers of nature. If you were to survive, you would have to have learned those lessons well to combat animals and weather. As you can see, that training worked. We are still here.

However, for the past 200 years, we have mitigated many of the risks that would have threatened our ancestors. We can walk down the street without the threat of a lion or other animals attacking us. We have housing and shelter that can protect us from the majority of weather conditions.

As we built cities that kept us safe from nature, we continued to raise our children to think the same way our ancestors did. In the past, the threat to our survival was nature. Yet, although we have eliminated the overwhelming majority of those threats, we maintained the mindset that we have to protect ourselves. And now we have turned that mindset against one another. 


It is like we never learned to shut off that mindset. As a result, we have transferred the need to protect ourselves from animals and weather to a need to protect ourselves from humans. We still live our everyday lives as though someone will attack us. We accuse our spouse, boss, friends, family, neighbors, etc. of attacking us. While it may not be a physical threat, our mindset to protect ourselves is fully functional. It is like we have been so conditioned to protect ourselves from the enemy that we habitually have to engage in activities that ensure our survival against a predator. This explains why there is war, crime, unfriendly competition, divorce, abuse, etc.

This is the human paradigm that each of us inherited. And it is part of every family, corporation and country. It still exists because we never took the time to realize the old paradigm was obsolete.

While we no longer need to seek security, our minds and belief systems convince us that there are many threats. We still live with the same fears of not finding security. Or we believe our security is predicated on someone else’s lack of security. The belief that security is scarce makes life difficult.

Some may find this discovery disheartening. It’s not. The good news is there is no one to blame. If you understand the design of the trap you are in, you will have a much better chance to dismantle it. While psychologists have been aware of this, they too were born into this paradigm. They have not sufficiently questioned what it means to be human in the 21st Century. If they did, they would see that security is abundant. The time has come to let go of the past and question whom we want to be.  

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.




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