I understand that most people seldom see where they fit in their own equations. In all fairness, it would be great to say that no one ever gets hurt. No one ever says mean or hurtful things. Loved ones would always be in love. In a perfect world, no one would ever argue or have to. No one would ever say an insensitive thing and we could smile and laugh and see things in our own special way. In a perfect world, everything would be perfect. No one would use passive/aggressive remarks to show their pain or hurt someone else in return. But to be clear, this is not a perfect world. We are all imperfect. We argue. We hurt. We assume and somehow, we seem to hurt almost preemptively. Then we submit to the pains of something that hasn’t even happened yet.
There would be no such things as insecurities in a perfect world. Our cultures would be competent with each other and nothing would be taken out of context. Words would never be misunderstood or misinterpreted. In a perfect world, we could apologize for our mistakes and allow the shame to simply vanish. Our regrettable yesterdays could absolutely disappear.
But again, there is no perfect world. This is not a perfect place and speaking only for myself, I am not a perfect person. I am someone with flaws and defects of character. I have fears and worries and stressors, which is where the anxiety comes from. I have accidents and incidents where I miscalculate or misjudge.
My social anxiety is overwhelmed by fear. It is nothing more and nothing less than the fear of being misunderstood and rejected or exposed and being humiliated. These are fears that have a long, detailed backstory. In fact, we all do.
I have a life filled with experiences that lead me to assumptions and biases, which is somewhat of a mathematical equation that assumes, “If this, then that.” But not all factors are the same. Not all people are the same but experience and pain are incredible teachers. Memories are not always beneficial and after an old downfall, there is a part of our mind that screams out, “I never want to feel this vulnerable again.”
It is no secret that the mind’s job is to take care of us. We might not always behave in the proper regard for self-care, but the mind is always searching for a way to understand, make sense or process our surroundings and emotions. We are always looking for answers and accountability for unanswerable thoughts such as, why do I feel this way? Who is at fault? Where do I place blame? And why do I feel regret?
Physical pain is something that everyone understands. We might not have the same threshold for pain, but we all understand it. The brain understands pain too. However, emotional pain does not come with the same physical descriptions. Although processed in the same part of the brain, it’s not like we can see the cuts or the bruises from emotional pain. It’s not like we can feel the bump on our head, but within our emotional heart, we still feel pain. We can feel this without any specific definition or physical materialization. There are no outward scars or band aids to cover this. Yet, the brain wants to heal. The mind wants to be rid of shame or pain or the feeling of ultimate foolishness.
We hold the accounts of our discomforts in our mental storage—we do this to be on the lookout for just such an occasion. But somehow, we never seem to realize that our target fixation draws us in rather than steers us away.
Ever hear of this before?
Target fixation is an interesting term. This is being caught in a cognitive tunnel or simply, target fixation is when we are so focused on a singular object that we ride or drive straight into it. This is what happens when we focus on an idea or concept and then we assume this path, drawing us in, rather than steering ourselves away. This is what happens with self-directed failures. This is what happens with self-destructive behaviors and the self-fulfilling prophecies that suggest something awful is on the way. Therefore, we become fixated on this as a target.
Target fixation has hurt leaders who were so focused on their goals that they missed the warning signs that could have helped them exit along the way. As for pain, target fixation is a draw, not a deterrent.
It is said that to a motorcyclist, the answer for target fixation is to look away—so, rather than ride into the collision ahead, look away because the body will tend to steer away.
As a human or better yet, as someone who is real in this world; as someone with history and my own pathology; as someone with scars that are both internal and external, and as someone whose challenges were less than simple; I have to continuously overcome my biases and improve my cognitive focus.
No matter what age I am, there is always a piece of me who is still that little kid, just hoping to be included and hoping to play with others. Like anyone else, I want to be liked and I want to be included.
As a person who understands rejection, I equally understand that for most of my life, I responded preemptively to my fears and to my concerns. I found myself caught in the same cognitive loops and struggling with the same thinking errors and beliefs. My target fixation was rejection and depressive thinking. My targets were anxiety. I fell into the swamps of emotional quicksand; in which case, the harder I tried to climb out, the deeper I sank.
I have lost friends. I have hurt myself and loved ones. Again, as I mentioned several times before, I am a real person. I have stared deep into the center of my target fixations and while never intentionally, I have inadvertently crashed.
I have taken to heart and absorbed the pains from my past and kept them to act like emotional glue, which bound me and only served to make the emotional quicksand thicker and able to consume me slower. And to be clear, sinking in this quicksand is almost like dying alive before my own eyes. This is life in the cognitive loop of emotional pains and rejective thinking. This is anxiety and social distortions that blind people from seeing clearly.
In a perfect world, no one would ever make mistakes. No one would take unintentional remarks personally. But this is not a perfect world. We hurt and we bleed. We might not always see the pain; however, that doesn’t mean pain doesn’t hurt. Hearts break all the time. It just sucks to be a part of it.
Now, with the past being the past and with the fixation being clear; rather than target the next possible heartache, the aim has to be to steer away from the old targets.
I can say that there are pieces of my past that are undesirable. Again, I am real. I am not in love with all the aspects of my history; however, to overcome them, I have to learn how to become in love with my future.
I have improved my targets. I have widened the spectrum to keep myself from the cognitive tunnel. I had to because I don’t want to crash and burn. I don’t want to direct myself into another downfall.
I want to focus on future endeavors. I want to strip myself of my old redundant feeds and assumptions. By empowering myself to draw new conclusions, I want to create new fixations.
I want to see myself and the world in the best light possible because no, we don’t live in a perfect world. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be the best version of “Me.”
The great thing about misery or insecurity is if we try something to improve or better ourselves; if we work on this and we are not happy with the results—that’s fine. Misery is always looking to honor refunds. But that’s okay.
I don’t want my misery back.
I’d rather fall in love with my future.
“My social anxiety is overwhelmed by fear. It is nothing more and nothing less than the fear of being misunderstood and rejected or exposed and being humiliated. These are fears that have a long, detailed backstory. In fact, we all do.” I relate to this statement so much.
Yup…. what a great, empowering concept!