fear, obligation, and guilt…

The acronym FOG—Fear, Obligation, and Guilt, was first coined by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier in Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You.

I have loved fog since I was a child, my favorite weather phenomenon by far. What I find so alluring and mysterious about fog is what’s UNSEEN. That’s precisely why I find this the perfect acronym for these complex and often confusing emotions.

We don’t know what’s happening around us until the sun burns away what’s obscured from our vision and then we’re able to gain more clarity.

Fear is a mental process that that triggers a physical response in humans when confronted by a threat.

Obligation comes from an innate sense of community responsibility. We are born with an instinctive sense of obligation to those around us.

Guilt comes from the same root as obligation. Most of us feel guilt when we do something that we think hurts others or disappoints of others.

Emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They can be our parents or partners, bosses or coworkers, friends or lovers. And no matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to win the pay-off they want: our compliance.”

Source: Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You

When someone is trapped in the FOG of an unhealthy relationship, a common method of control is the use of gaslighting.

Gaslighting deploys often repeated phrases and makes us doubt our own beliefs, even when there’s overwhelming and well-documented information to the contrary.

Here’s an example of gaslighting: The world-wide virus, Covid19 is a Hoax, a Plandemic designed to make this administration look bad before the 2020 election.

This can’t possibly be true—173,000 people in America have died so far from the virus and 1000 Americans are dying every day. Being told repeatedly that the US is managing the virus better than most other countries is false, often repeated, and done deliberately to make people doubt the well-documented reality that the virus is ravaging our nation on so many levels. There were protocols in place for how to manage a likely pandemic. They have been ignored by the Trump administration.

NOTE: Eleven people were treated for Ebola in the United States during the 2014-2016 epidemic. https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/history/2014-2016-outbreak/index.html

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

―Plato

Clearing away the FOG will allow more visibility into the reality of your relationships and how they may be affecting your health and quality of life. No one should live in a constant state of FEAR, OBLIGATION, and GUILT.

If you find yourself in a challenging relationship of any kind, the OUT of the FOG website provides very help information. There are tips about how to take care of yourself, respond with compassion to difficult circumstances, put appropriate (and loving) boundaries in place, and when to seek professional guidance to navigate turbulent emotional waters.

https://outofthefog.website/traits

https://outofthefog.website/toolbox-1/2015/11/17/fog-fear-obligation-guilt

Merriam Webster is the source for all definitions.

Is this still self-evident in 2020?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

—Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

democracy

1a: government by the people, especially the rule of the majority

b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

oligarchy

1a: government by the few

b: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes

Corruption is nature’s way of restoring our faith in democracy.

—Peter Ustinov

Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov (16 April 1921 – 28 March 2004) was an English actor, writer, filmmaker, theatre and opera director, comedian, radio broadcaster, and television presenter. He was a fixture on television talk shows and lecture circuits for much of his career. An intellectual and diplomat, he held various academic posts and served as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and President of the World Federalist Movement. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Ustinov

Thank you Pema, Dusty & Emily…

I’ve been reading Pema Chödrön’s book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, she writes about hope and fear—

“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something: they come from a sense of poverty.  We can’t simply relax with ourselves.  We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment.”

HOPE verb: to cherish a desire with anticipation, to want something to happen or be true

FEAR verb: to be afraid of, expect with alarm

Hope was on my mind, so this morning Dusty Springfield’s 1964 song—Wishin’ and Hopin’ popped into my head as did Emily Dickinson’s poem—Hope Is A Things With Feathers. Oh you brilliant, creative women…you’ve been homesteading in my psyche the last few days. Thank you, your timing is impeccable.

Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’
Plannin’ and dreamin’ each night of his charms
That won’t get you into his arms
So if you’re lookin’ to find love you can share
All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and love him
And show him that you care

Songwriters: Hal David / Burt Bacharach—Artist: Dusty Springfield

All of this hope talk made me think about parenting, religion, and my childhood. My mother’s prayers for me when I was growing up were that I would eventually become someone or something else—an idealized version of the raw potential she saw in me. Please help Lisa stop picking her fingernails, overeating, cussing, being lazy, not caring about her grades, reading the wrong books, listening to the wrong music, drinking beer, or NOT believing the way I do.

I don’t blame her, this was her programming. I’m sure it felt quite loving hopin’ and prayin’ for my needed improvements. She feared who I might possibly become, and truly believed her prayers could turn things around for me. Her faith then required that she gave the God of her understanding credit whenever my improvements, no matter how barely detectable emerged.

I did the same thing to my children—always hopin’ they would become the best version of themselves. I guess I thought wishin’ for the hidden potential in them to emerge would reflect what a stellar job I’ve done mothering and flatter my ego. Damn, that was my programming too.

Emily Dickinson’s poem, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers reveals the unsettling nature of the never ending loop of constant hope…and never stops – at all -.

Hopin’ I believed would make all of my sleepless nights and heartache worthwhile. However, instead, what I’m finally understanding is that all of that motherly wishin, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ kept me from accepting them as they were/are in the present. I’m truly sorry Ellis, Lucy, and Willa that I did not learn this sooner.

Wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ doesn’t seem to actually be working in any part of my life now that I give it more though...and never stops – at all—thanks Emily for that reminder.

What if I practiced more acceptance in all areas of my life? What would that feel like? Complacent? Uncaring? UnAmerican? Untethered? Unbelievable?

Let’s experiment, take a moment…breathe, just let the word acceptance settle into our soul a bit…repeat it a few times. Thoughts?

What if right now in America we just quit wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ for things to be different than they are? What if collectively we ACCEPTED that the God of our personal understanding is desperately trying to reveal to us that all of the political division, rage, wounded egos, destruction, inequality, brutality, greed, spiritual aches, righteousness, grief, and suffering requires our heart’s immediate attention right now and we can no longer keep hopin’ and prayin’ for it to magically disappear?

All you gotta do is hold him and kiss him and love him
And show him others that you care

Finding ways to be grounded…

when the world feels like a batshit crazy place is pretty challenging. I don’t know the best way to access a more grounded version of myself, but I do know the quickest. When I’m acting childish and feeling like I deserve more (or less) of whatever—a little gratitude for all of the good things in my life seems to ground me the most.

Gratitude not attitude seems to do the trick.

grounded—mentally and emotionally stable: admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious (Merriam Webster)

I’m not entirely sure about “admirably sensible” or “unpretentious“. However, feeling grounded, well, that’s worth a little exploration.

are we frayed beyond repair?

“Once the fabric of a just society is undone, it takes generations to weave it back together.” —Deepak Chopra

What is the opposite of FEAR?

I went to bed last night wondering what is the opposite of FEAR.  Nothing came to mind immediately for me, or nothing that seemed exactly right anyway.

This is hardly an original ponderable on my part, but I wanted to research and see what resonated the most for me.  You won’t believe how much comes up on a google search on this topic. Here are a few others: hope, love, bravery, courage, faith, trust, fearlessness, gallantry, unconcern, audacity, calm…and many more.

Out of all of the answers I thought and read about, I landed on CURIOSITY.  When I feel most fearful, the more I know the less fearful I am. When I thought about the other possibilities, curiosity kept bubbling up again and again.

I’m curious (of course) about what you think is the opposite of FEAR for you?

Please let me know, let’s start a dialogue.

fear-at-night-driving-sd-lillibridge

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