Monday, December 3, 2012

Sublimation - A Key To Maturity



Song:  Caribbean Blue

Artist:  Enya



There are two basic ways of furthering your life.

One is to know your path in life...
to keep walking that path...
surely and steadily...
always keeping your eye on the goal...
never giving up...
always playing to your strengths.

The other is to bypass the pitfalls...
the traps and the cliffs...
and to be able to ignore the song of the siren
which entices you with short term pleasures over long term gains.

This is to shore up any weaknesses which threaten 
to destroy your ability to walk your path
(anger, frustration and stubbornness as manifested in destructive actions or inactions)...
and to not be seduced by anything which would deviate you from your chosen path
(the negation of the sacrifice of your long term goals for short term pleasures).


Both are necessary.
Through the correct striving of goals...progress is possible.
By bypassing the pitfalls...progress then becomes assured.

What I am talking about here is, of course...
sublimation.

Sublimation (in the psychological sense)...
 is the suppressing of our baser emotions (when felt at inappropriate times)...
and the redirection of them into productive and appropriate actions and thought patterns.

Emotions such as anger, when expressed under normal social situations...
can be destructive not only in the short term...
but carried to extremes...
can destroy a person's long term happiness.

Sublimation focuses on the actions...
the redirecting of formerly destructive urges into actions 
which would yield positive results.

The anger would be there initially...
but it would be made into fuel for change.

Instead of just feeling angry...
with a plan of positive action put into effect...
a plan which would raise the person to greater heights...
the person would be sublimating his anger and turning it into determination.

The more determined you are...
the more committed is your mind.

The more committed you are...
the more you practice.

The more you practice...
the greater the results.

The greater and more widespread the results...
the greater your life.

And so, the wisdom of the old proverb...
"The sweetest revenge is living your life well".


The antithetical and destructive old sayings which sum up
the lives of so many who waste their life in our prisons...

"Sweet revenge"
(when meant in an immediate and destructive fashion)...

"Revenge is a plate best served cold"
(meant to describe a cold and methodical plan of destructive action
to ensure efficacy of the act over long term happiness).

Clearly...
Sublimation is a necessary skill to develop...
not only for society's sake...
but for the sake of the person.


Now...
a real life example.

The one person in my life who scared me more than anyone else...
the one person who...when I think back...had the potential to completely 
destroy everything I value in life...and many times...almost had...was...me.


My main fault is my very quick temper and low frustration tolerance.

I rarely stay mad for longer than a few seconds...
however, it is in those few seconds that a person's destiny may be written.

I am a man of extremes
(like many men).

I have always felt the impact of my emotions...
very quickly...and very deeply.

While many of the small instances in life don't bother me...
when a core principle or concept is violated...
especially one involving justice...
it simply reverberates in my soul.

What I have done to prevent the impulse to act rashly...
is to sublimate that initial impulse.

The stage for sublimation is set by consciously choosing to act
in a positive and productive manner...
a manner in which anger is converted to an effective driving force
in problem resolution...determination.

A way to think in this way is to essentially make a sacred pact with yourself.
In exchange for immediate anger satisfaction...you are promising yourself
the far greater satisfaction of a long term victory through the determined
application of a positive plan of action.

While this is a normal and often used coping mechanism...
where many people fail in the long term is in the follow through.

People essentially fool themselves...
they promise themselves the corrective and cathartic actions...
and then when their anger dissipates...
they no longer feel the need to make long term corrections.
This almost assures the reoccurrence of similar problems in the future.

It sounds silly...
but if you lie to yourself...
you cannot trust yourself.

Sublimation cannot take hold, because deep down...
you know that you won't really do anything.

When you honor the sanctity of a sacred pact with yourself...
you no longer have doubt as to your final success.

An example of sublimation taking hold through a positive plan of action...
and true follow through, is one which plays itself out in many a boy's life.

A bully who seeks to dominate others through subtle intimidation
through aggressive staring, and through the crowding of personal space...
is a prime example.

The victim cannot suddenly lash out physically
(socially unacceptable).

However, by formulating a plan of positive action
and making a sacred pact with himself to carry it out to fruition...
he could then improve himself and correct the situation.

It is most commonly effected through the use of building his body
in strength, endurance, and skill, to the point of unacceptable risk
to the bully.

The boy need not bully in return.
Just through his new confidence and solid physique...
bullies avoid him in 99% of the cases.

However, should the bully try him...
he could crowd the bully's space and return his aggressive stare...
in essence, picking up the thrown gauntlet and slapping the bully
in the face with it.

Usually, due to the cowardly nature of the bully...that is enough.

Should the bully escalate the situation to the realm of the physical...
it would be the answer to the boy's dreams.

He would then be morally (and legally) in the right (self defense).

A quick straight right to the nose or jaw of the former bully
not only rectifies the situation...
but provides a sweet victory indeed!


By doing this...not only is the anger converted to determination...
thereby defusing the feelings of anger...
but through the determined application of an effective and positive plan...
the original cause is often rendered powerless to affect you forever more.

In a short while, using your imagination to come up with
positive ways to apply an effective solution...
and with anger being converted to a passionate drive...
a positive cycle takes hold.



Now...
am I a paragon of perpetual self control?

NO

It usually involves people in my inner circle (family).

I do get frustrated...
and I sometimes lash out verbally.

It happens in those critical first few seconds.
I am often sorry for my words even before I fully say them.

Yelling out of frustration is wrong...
and so I allow the other person to vent their anger at me
(within reason).

At that point...
justice is again back in balance.

After I apologize...
that is the end of it...........
at least in my mind.

Now if I could just convince my wife to think along these same lines  :)


In general (outside of family)...
when I am successful in not losing my temper (99.9% of the time)...
my first thought is to validate or invalidate the perceived unfair act or assertion.

It takes but a second or two
to run the scenario in your mind to determine virgin guilt.

As I have stated...
justice is one of my prime concerns.

Justice applies to all.

If I am wrong...
I not only accept their anger...
I apologize to them...
and I try to make it up to them.

If, however, they are wrong...
I don't accept their anger.

My initial act of sublimation involves a short term gain through mental fencing.
Knowing that I will win the argument in the end, my anger is sublimated 
to determination and manifested in the formulation of a convincing argument.

After allowing a little while for things to cool off...
I would present my argument as to why they were wrong.
I cannot help but respect...and like...a person who can not only admit
they are wrong...but who makes changes to correct the fault.

I am very forgiving of such people
(if I am to expect forgiveness for my errors...
I must forgive others.  That is also justice).

There is one problem with this strategy however.

Even at my age...
I am still amazed at how many people simply cannot admit when they are wrong.

I am not talking of opinions...
I am talking about the presentation of irrefutable evidence 
in support of my argument...and their irrational dismissal of it.

People should think of argumentation as a fencing match.
Irrefutable evidence is a straight strike to the heart.
The foil hits its mark...
the foil clearly bends showing the depth of penetration.
It is indisputably a mortal blow.

When a person then pretends that the strike was not a mortal blow...
and just keeps attacking as if nothing had happened...
it is this which frustrates me to no end.

When this happens (habitually)...
my sublimation simply extends to longer range plans.

I use it to fuel my drive to improve my life so I would not be a prisoner
to the presence of such people.

In essence, I work at changing my situation to limit my contact with them...
and by also looking forward to the day when I leave them in the metaphorical dust
(although my main drive is not derived from revenge based fuel...
I think of it as an Octane fuel additive.  It prevents the main fuel from
preignition (rash act) due to high compression (anger)...
thereby preventing damage to the engine (my life)).


What I am speaking of in this article all comes under one 
VERY important principle...
Long term gains over the short.

Through the use of Sublimation...
people...and societies...
not only keep themselves from tearing themselves apart...
it provides the fuel for positive change.


A prime example of sublimation is
John Walsh.

He created and starred in the TV show...
America's Most Wanted.

His son was abducted and murdered.

After suffering the unimaginable...
he sublimated what must have been pure rage and anguish
into a driving force which helped to capture so many who
were victimizing innocent people.
In doing so...
had found the greatest way he could honor his son.


Looking historically...
Anthropologically...
the societies which inculcated sublimation into their culture
by giving their people fair recourse (fair laws and court system)
and viable alternate paths for sublimating their anger
 (meritocracy based upward mobility - a viable long term investment)
had / have greatly progressed.

People have to know that their long term efforts will be rewarded.
Without this assurance...there is simply no incentive to sublimate.
If there is positive reinforcement for long term plans which outweigh
the satisfaction of immediate desires...sublimation naturally occurs as a whole.

On the contrary...
any "culture" which devolves into hedonism, soon dies out...
it is simply unsustainable (Hippies anyone?).

On an individual level...
deferred gratification is the sublimation of an immediate reward...
for that of the idea of a greater reward later on.

NEVER be that parent that promises something to a child
in hopes of controlling his immediate behavior...
and then not delivering on that promise.

Deferred gratification has no meaning if there is no later promised reward.

You will be teaching him that sublimation is a false promise...
that there would be no reason to alter his unacceptable behavior.

He will then strive to fight all of his battles in the immediacy of the moment.

In his mind...
only stubbornness and aggression will provide any returns.

Now...
don't be confused by thinking that sublimation is a conscious action.

It is simply a greater realized path.

By enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior...
and by giving viable alternatives which give greater rewards...
sublimation naturally occurs.

The point is to give viable paths to anger...not to eliminate it.

We are emotional beings...anger is inevitable.

The successful person isn't the one who never feels anger...
it is the person who learns how to redirect the anger in a constructive manner.

When a person learns to convert his anger
from the fast burning explosive that is gunpowder...
to the long burning fuel of coal...it still burns hot...
but the heat may then be harnessed
to be used to forge his life in a constructive and progressive fashion.

A parent who always says no instead of finding alternate ways of having
the child do a constructive action based on his urge (a yes)...
will end up having a frustrated child.

The simplest way to having a person sublimate is to have them realize
one of the sweetest rewards of all...
a hard won victory.

Once a person tastes a true victory...
they will always remember it.

It will become an inner urge to excel.

Most people settle for mediocrity because they focus on the enormity
of the task as a whole instead of breaking down the task into
digestible and palatable portions.

By having closely spaced objectives which are efficiently aligned
with task achievement, and by giving the person the knowledge
of where they stand in the master plan...thereby giving them
not only their location...but their rate of travel...
they become more enthusiastic with each objective completion.

Once their hard won goal is achieved...
and with ever more exciting goals in their future fueling them with hope...
sublimation naturally occurs as all other lesser pleasures
no longer have their great draw.

They will then automatically generalize this winning pattern of achievement
and will start applying it to everything in life.

As I have stipulated many times before in previous articles...
there is one VERY important caveat.
One must NEVER give a meaningless win...
one where a child gets a reward just for showing up.

The greater the fire used...
and the more time and care given by the blacksmith...
the greater the temper given to the steel.

It is the difference between a flattened piece of iron...
and the million layered, finely tempered and honed...
Japanese Katana.

When you praise mediocrity...
mediocrity is what you shall forever get.

A child learns two things when he is falsely praised:

One - He learns that laziness pays off.
Why try hard when he can get something for less?

Two - A false, or an easy win, is a hollow victory.
He will falsely think that victory is nothing special...
and so, is nothing to strive for.

The objective is not to have the child "feel good about himself (falsely)"...
it is not to have him build his "self esteem" on a false structure
(self esteem is earned...it cannot be given).

It is to have him realize a true victory through true performance...
hard won through his efforts.

He may still have his victories in a true form...
and on a frequent basis... by breaking down the goals into
smaller pieces and by daily objectives.

If there is no challenge in the objective...
there is nothing for which to strive...
and there is nothing for which to feel good about...
period.


It is in the constant striving in which lessons are learned.

It is in the lessons learned in which objectives are conquered.

It is in those consecutively conquered objectives in which the goals are achieved.

It is in those achieved goals in which true victory is secured and sublimation
is first realized and then reaffirmed with each successive victory.

It is in those true victories in which a child will form
the basis for the patterns of all his future successes.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to comment on this article.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...