Having the time to reflect during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic home confinement, and like millions of others in a similar situation worldwide, I have been browsing YouTube channels and using this opportunity to improve myself or to learn something new, yet I find my thoughts returning to the same or similar theme of thinking with the choice of channel selections, “you have the answer to your problem inside of you,” in other words, be self-reliant. Of course for many this seems like a Herculean task. You are your own biggest obstacle to your success (to become whatever) and overcoming those internal hurdles should be our life-long task because with alarming regularity they creep back up like weeds in a garden.
One recent example, I read in a local newspaper with a mix of disappointment and disbelief that many of those infected at a mass-religious gathering, lie about their involvement and their subsequent health deterioration were reluctant to disclose the whole truth about their health situation causing entire hospitals to be shut down, effectively denying many patients access to healthcare such as emergencies, maternal, pediatrics and oncology care besides tackling the viral infections. This denial, when confronted often expressed aggressively towards health providers by the few infected not only puts thousands of others at risk all while moving about freely infecting others is a great cause for alarm.
So I was thinking, “what causes someone to behave like this? Fear of being stigmatized? Fear of accepting the truth that they are infected and potentially die? Fear of medical costs? Fear of losing their status within their community? Fear of being embarrassed or humiliated for being infected? I don’t have the answers to their actions. Whatever their fears are, it exists inside their minds. A person’s actions are often a reflection of their thoughts and their words and behaviors are an extension of their ego and insecurities.
Now it’s not the time to be judgemental but to think of the greater good on how to be part of the solution rather than to add to the problem. It seems that their dragons are much stronger so they skirt about and use ego-based and insecure responses to cope with their shortcomings.
In my own reality, as a teenager growing up I had my own fears that compelled me to seek them out and face them. Being ignorant of the realities of a real fight, what it would be like to take a punch to the face and similar concerns about personal safety. Perhaps my attraction to learning martial arts was a measured step closer to confronting my own Dragon. No one in my circle of influence back then had any direct experience from real aggression. At most it was school yard fights and those were more scuffles than full out fist fights.
This goes to show how strong an influence our childhood determines our course of actions as adults. The nagging thoughts that linger on the back burner of our minds during quiet times when we are alone and undistracted from the chores of work or life often gives momentum for self-reflection and perhaps we can also use these opportunities to set a new course in our lives, but those thoughts remain until they are brought, naked and kicking, into the sunlight and resolved.
The dark entry point of the forest for me back then was to recognize that this was an area that I had little information or no tools to handle and walking into a space where strong, skilled and larger adults who could easily harm me was my dragon’s lair moment. Once I stepped in, I could not get out until I conquered this dragon because I knew that once my back was turned it would pounce and burn me into a cinder. The metaphoric gold that I wrestled back was my understanding of human nature, tools to handle my own fears and insecurities and a direction to keep going forwards rather than being stuck in circular arguments and suffering internal confusion and conflict. Yet, I know that I have only reached the summit of one challenge and perhaps conquered a smaller dragon.
I feel a lot more confident today. My “cure” took place at a snail’s pace with much thanks to my training partners, team mates, coaches and teachers along the way both on and off the mats for sharing their time, their resistance, knowledge, positive and negative experiences and patience with me. Onto bigger dragons now that I have some experience and also be the path finder and help others who have gone astray to finding and tackling their own dragons.
Jordan Peterson’s video that inspired this post.