Why we Learn the Hard Way?

The survival instinct is one of the strongest driving forces that conditions human behaviour. So, if we’re meant to safeguard our survival, why do we insist on learning the hard way and exposing ourselves to ‘unnecessary pain’?

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The perception of growth is essential to our survival instinct. When we stop growing, we feel stress because our instinct gives us the perception that we are not adapting to the evolutionary rate of our environment. This stress is what makes us rebel against advice and common sense.

It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve been warned against making a mistake, we are typically driven to learn from first hand experience.

When we learn through theory (advice), we create a rational consciousness of that information. However, when we learn through practice (experience), we create an emotional consciousness that shapes our values and therefore, our behaviour. Thus, we are designed to learn through experiences in order to grow.

But why the pain? Why the hard way?

The experience itself causes an emotional impact which drives our behaviour. When we ‘learn the hard way’, we perceive a negative emotional impact that causes a value transformation. For example, if we feel pain because someone has lied to us, we forge values like: honesty, trust, loyalty, faithfulness, etc. We would value honesty as much as the fear to avoid the pain caused by this event; this is what we call emotional consciousness.

The negative emotional impact forges our values and therefore the perception of our identity: “Honesty is now part of my life”. The value transformation is proportionate to how much pain we felt when we perceived that this value was missing the most. The stronger the pain, the stronger our transformation, and thus, the stronger our perception of growth.

All in all, we are instinctively driven to learn the hard way because our behaviour is conditioned by our survival instinct. This is linked to our perception of growth, which happens through the transformation of values caused by experiences with negative emotions. In order words, we are just a bunch of stubborn masochistic fools.

Why not the Good Way?

Positive emotional impacts don’t transform our emotional values, rather reinforce them. The perception of growth that happens with the reinforcement of values may not be sufficient for some. Each person is different. Some people will take advice and learn the good way, while others prefer to learn the hard way: not once, not twice, but as many times as they need to fulfil their perception of growth.

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Who are we?

We are here to talk about our emotional wellbeing, so I’m going to avoid all other approaches (spiritual, biological, philosophical, etc.) when answering the question: Who are we?

trauma coach who are we

We are our emotional values. It sounds so simple, I know. But in relation to your emotional health, this understanding will serve you far better than any other definition of who we are. Let me explain.

Love, trust, freedom, gratitude and many other are emotional values. They serve us by helping us to identify with ourselves and our environment. If someone was to challenge any of our most precious values, (e.g. generosity), we would normally perceive this as a personal threat, rather than a criticism of the value itself. So, why is that?

Our emotional values define how we perceive ourselves. So, according to our perception, we are our emotional values. They represent the foundation of our beliefs, our opinions, our judgements and our emotions. This brings up two important questions. Why is perception more important than what is actually there? And secondly, why do our emotional values define our identity?

Why is Important to Understand our Emotional Values

If we don’t care about what our emotional values are, we allow the media, society, religion and our family to choose them for us. Sometimes, they are the same, but when they are not, they may give way to chronic stress and emotional trauma.

We are going to be exposed to challenges and struggles throughout our life. We can confront them whilst being surrounded by our most precious values, or by the ones determined by our external environment. It’s up to us to choose.

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Five Factors Essential for our Emotional Health

The five essential elements that trigger natural emotional stimulation come from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The need to carry out an outdoor, physical and social activity in a natural environment, is still hard-wired into our emotional framework. We would have not survived or evolved into who we are today if it weren’t for the fact that we are designed to cope with such challenging emotional stimulation. So, what are the five factors essential to emotional health.

1. Outdoor Activity

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Outdoor conditions stimulate our senses and trigger our survival instinct. Exposure to sunlight has a direct impact on our sleep habits. Additionally, we have forward-facing eyes, designed to accurately judge distances near and far. This visual stimulation is essential to our emotional wellbeing.

Technology stimulates our perception of outdoor environments. TV is the perfect example, offering our visual and auditory senses emotional stimulation through light, sound and perception of distance and depth. However, we know that this isn’t reality. And so the longer we are exposed to an outdoor environment that provides a similar, yet genuine stimulation, the better off we are emotionally.

2. Natural Environment

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Nothing stimulates our senses or our survival instinct like ‘raw exposure’ to nature itself Disneyland doesn’t count. An outdoor environment alone is not sufficient to drain our emotional quota. Nature offers a unique variety of solid, liquid and gaseous biospheres in a dynamic and unpredictable setting, which is excellent for our emotional wellbeing.

We’ve been living in cities for less than 10,000 years, compared to the 1.8 million years we lived as nomads in hunter-gatherers societies, exposed to raw, natural environments. Today’s lifestyle choices disconnect us from this natural emotional stimulation. The more exposure to natural environments, the better off we are emotionally.

3. Social Activity

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By nature, humans are social creatures. This intrinsic characteristic has contributed not only to our survival but also to the evolution of our intelligence. Socialising requires a complex brain designed with the emotional capacity to empathise, communicate, grow and contribute to society. Socialising is crucial to our emotional wellbeing, but technological socialising doesn’t provide the same outcome.

  • Empathy – When we connect on an emotional level, we improve our life experience. In general, when we share a positive experience, the emotional impact is magnified and when we share a negative experience, the emotional impact is diluted. Sharing itself does wonder: therapy and support groups are founded on this principle.
  • Communication – Technology has improved our communication, but it doesn’t provoke the same emotional experience offered by face to face verbal and nonverbal communication. The emotional impact generated by human touch and natural communication is essential to our emotional wellbeing.
  • Growth – Constant growth is possibly the most important requirement of our survival instinct. We are designed to grow as individuals, and as a social group, with our ever-changing environment. If our social expectations match our emotional aspirations, we feel fulfilled and this is crucial to our emotional wellbeing.
  • Contribution – We have an innate perception of “I’m not enough”. When we are exposed to natural emotional stimulation, this perception is the strongest driving force contributing to positivity in our social environment. However, when we are not exposed to natural emotional stimulation, the perception of “I’m not enough” causes low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

4. Higher Purpose

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Tribalism is still an essential feature of society, despite years of evolution. The behaviour and attitudes that stem from loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group, whether it’s your religious affinity, football team or Pokémon Go team, is strongly linked to our survival instinct. Social gaming exploits this human need, which is essential to our emotional wellbeing. Now you know why you would protect a Pokémon Gym as if your life depended on it.

When we are not exposed to natural emotional stimulation, which is linked to a meaningful social purpose, our survival instinct will express itself through compulsive and addictive behaviour. For instance, with chocolate. You’ll make it a matter of life and death to have that last bite, as if your life depended on it, even though you know you shouldn’t.

5. Physical Activity

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Physical activity activates our whole body, but without the prior 4 elements mentioned above, the emotional stimulation will not be the same. That’s why it’s so hard to go to the gym alone.

So, if you want to pump up your emotional wellbeing along with that of your body, try adding social value to your workout in a natural environment for at least 1 hour per day. There are few natural highs better than going out for an intensive workout in a social environment with a common purpose in mind.

To better understand our emotional wellbeing, we must assume that our brain is wired to drain a negative emotional quota periodically. If we don’t drain it through natural stimulation, including the five elements quoted above, we will drain it through negative thinking and meaningless drama. So, next time you feel irritated, ask yourself, when was the last time you were exposed to natural emotional stimulation.

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Paleo Emotions – The Foundation of Negative Thinking

Human emotions may be more primitive than we think. Our emotions are better suited to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle than to those of today’s vast civilisations. In order to better understand our emotional wellbeing, we need to take into consideration the emotional environment of our ancestors during the Palaeolithic period.

The human family tree is around 15 million years old, but it wasn’t until 10,000 years ago that our ancestors began to move from hunter-gatherer societies to settled agricultural communities. And only 5,000 years ago did the first large civilisations, characterised by urban development, social stratification, symbolic communication forms, emerge. So we’ve really only been ‘civilised’ for the past 250 generations. How much have our brains evolved in the past 5,000 years? Not that much: it seems we are still a bunch of primitive apes.

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For the last 100 years, our habits have become conditioned by god-like technology that has overloaded our lives with excessive comforts and pleasures, as well as too much free time. This lifestyle is the foundation of negative thinking, which is the root cause of depression, anxiety and chronic stress. Why? Our brains are not designed to be bombarded with pleasure, but rather with challenges, struggles, suffering, pain and a wide range of negative emotions.

“The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Palaeolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology” – Edward Osborne Wilson

If we don’t feed our brains with a healthy dose of challenging emotions, our brains will feed themselves with negative thinking. Think about it. Our ancestors had to venture into the wild on a daily basis, searching for food: essentially, struggling to survive. We are emotionally wired to struggle. We have a negative emotional quota that needs to be drained regardless of the circumstances.

The Five Essential Factors that relate to Emotional Wellbeing come from this understanding: Humans are designed to drain a challenging emotional quota on a daily basis through an outdoor, physical, social activity in a natural environment connected to a higher purpose than oneself: the survival of the social group.

So, should we just give up our modern lifestyle in order to connect with our primitive roots? It would be kind of cool, but there’s really no need for that. Be aware that if you don’t fill your life with meaningful challenges, your brain will trigger negative thinking through meaningless drama. Being conscious of this is the first step towards improving your emotional wellbeing. And after that, it’s up to you to choose how to drain your challenging emotional quota.

When was the last time you were caught up in a meaningless drama? Do you get easily offended? Do you take things personally? Do you feel the urge to question this post? Great! Feel free to drain your emotional quota in the comment box below.

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Why is the Fear of Darkness Good for you?

Almost every culture in the world has a bogeyman, an imaginary monster that scares the shit out of kids. ‘If you misbehave, the Bogeyman will come and get you!’.

How is it possible that this mystical creature has conditioned the behaviour of many kids around the world? Because the Bogeyman (‘El Coco’ in most Spanish speaking countries) is one of the most common personifications of the fear of darkness.

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The fear of darkness was an essential survival response of our ancestors. The ape that wasn’t afraid of the dark came out at night and was eaten or died. But, the one who was afraid of the dark and stayed in survived and evolved into who we are today and passed on this primitive survival instinct.

Today, the fear of darkness plays a new role in people’s lives. As it’s no longer a survival response, it doesn’t really bring value to our lives the way it did back then. So, what value does the fear of darkness bring to us nowadays?

The Negative Emotional Quota and the Fear

We have a negative emotional quota that needs to be drained periodically regardless of the circumstances. The darkness offers the perfect environment for those negative thoughts to be interpreted as being life threatening. This emotional stimulation is essential to our emotional balance. Let me explain.

Challenges, threats, suffering, pain and a wide range of negative emotions provoke meaningful stimulation essential to our emotional wellbeing. This negative emotional impact is linked to our survival and when we tap into this, we offer our brain a healthy perception of a life threatening environment. We are designed to cope with this, if we weren’t, our ancestors would have not survived.

Everyone has a different emotional quota. People that pay to watch horror movies have a higher fear quota than me, for example. I can’t even watch Pinocchio because I panic when the puppet turns into a donkey. Not to mention Dumbo, I’m still working on my fear of elephant-shaped bubbles.

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Now you know where your issues come from.

So the next time you find yourself checking under the bed, or frantically trying to turn on the lights for fear of the Bogeyman, the monster in the closet or the ghost behind you, be thankful. The fear of darkness is here to help you drain your negative emotional quota, which is essential for your emotional wellbeing.

Problems with Fear?

If you have problems with fear, it’s because you are enjoying too much the moments when it’s gone, when you feel safe and alive. Your fear is a silent messenger. If you want to know what is trying to tell you, feel free to contact me.

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Welcome to the Fantasy World of Positive Thinking

Did you know that Positive Thinking can give you true happiness and peace of mind with no drama and no suffering?

Welcome to the Fantasy World of Positive Thinking

Anyone preaching this fantasy, is trying to sell you a product or a service. Anyone preaching eternal happiness through a belief system is trying to slave your mind. So, what is the truth to life? I don’t know, and I’m OK with that.

I don’t need to know ‘the truth’ in order to live a wonderful life.

I’m not here to preach the ultimate truth. I’m here to share with you my emotions, my values, and my humble beliefs as I help my clients dissolve their fantasies. That’s what I do: I’m a fantasy buster, I’m a coach for emotional trauma.

Does that even exist? Now it does, I just made it up.

If we compare our life to a fantasy, we lose. Chronic stress comes from here. So, if you are ready to get real, I welcome you to grow, cry and have a laugh as we discover together the beauty of living an authentic life, not a fantasy life based on positive thinking. So…

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Why is Positive Thinking Making you Miserable?

The search for happiness through positive thinking is an illusion. That’s my humble belief. We are amazing creatures designed to grow and evolve constantly. This is the strongest survival instinct present in all living creatures. So, how do we grow? We grow when we are exposed to challenges.

When we perceive that our environment is ‘challenging’ our survival and our emotional values, we grow. This perception forges our survival instinct and our emotional values. Our ancestors managed to survive by thriving through challenges, not by laying down on their comfort zone, and we are no different.

Challenges cause a negative emotional impact, but when we color-code this impact with positive thinking, we cease to grow. Our brain is left out starving for challenging emotions. Therefore, if you don’t fulfil your life with meaningful challenges, your brain manifests meaningless drama in order to stimulate artificial growth.

Now you know why we are such drama queens.

So, how does it work? We have a negative emotional quota that needs to be spent periodically. If we don’t do so, we discharge that quota through cheap drama and moaning. That’s the birth of negative thinking, a necessary evil that shocks our brain with a healthy dosage of negative emotions.

Now you know where negative thinking comes from.

When was the last time you were caught up in a meaningless drama? Do you get easily offended? Do you take things personal? Do you feel the urge to question this post? Great, feel free to drain your emotional quota on the comment box below.

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