Life in Fear. Life in Love. Or, the power of Blue.

circumplex_pgSome time ago I received a short email with perhaps one of the most profound messages I had read in a while. It came from one of my clients, a manager in a large company, with whose team I had just spent a very special day. It was a day when a group of very professional business people, serious, intelligent, highly performant and competitive took off their corporate masks and allowed themselves to be just human – beautiful, sensitive, vulnerable, imperfect and amazingly authentic. It was a day when I used the psychometric instruments from Human Synergistics to measure the way these people interacted within the team and start a long discussion about the attitudes we can have towards one another – aggressive (red), passive (green) or constructive (blue). We talked about how aggressiveness and passivity, both consequences of fear, are two ways we humans have learnt, at a very young age, to protect ourselves. Constructivism, on the other hand, is rooted in trust and goodwill and is a drive we all had in our first years of life, but which we  forgot once too many layers of negative experiences have polluted the innocence of our childhood.

Every time I explain to a group the mechanisms of fear and trust I realise it’s hard to find the perfect words and metaphors which would give meaning to the message, particularly when the audience is hyper-rational. I hear, in the business environment, all sorts of well-intended questions which are very hard to answer without becoming too abstract: “Why would it be better for us to stop competing amongst ourselves – competition drives results, doesn’t it?”; “What’s in it for me if I decide to help another rather than act in my own best interest?”; “How can we still achieve great outcomes in a hyper-competitive world if we have other people’s best interest at heart?”; “Altruism and profit can really go hand in hand?”; “Can I trust others and give up control without taking the risk of being disappointed or things going haywire?”.

How to explain that all these questions are really about fear and love? How to show that fear is the only reason why people get the obsessive urge to compete, control, criticise, become sticklers or avoiders, to say “yes” when they really want to say “no” or be unnaturally complacent and prone to disadvantageous compromises? How to convey to people that love is what gives us trust, what makes us care, help each other even when there’s no direct gain from it, bravely say our minds and have the courage to respectfully disagree, be authentic, allow ourselves to give and receive help, do more and try to prove less?

How to demonstrate that love and fear are two primary forces that lead our lives? That we are born with love and, as neuro-science proves, are capable of learning fear very quickly? That we are beings who have evolved for millions of years led by our basic survival instinct (fight or flight) and that this very instinct which saved our lives in the savannah is now making us destroy one another and the very world we live in? That, despite this basic selfish human instinct, we still come into this world open, confident and full of light, as if this were the zero state, when all of us carry inside the energy of unconditional love, altruism, collaboration, which we later forget once we start learning fear and having the old self-protection instincts activated by the people around us?

How can I say more clearly that there is a battle going on inside each of us – a battle between these two forces – love, the state of evolved consciousness – and fear – the state of consciousness of an animal whose only priority is it’s own survival? We live in a world where fear literally creates monsters, where the narrow preoccupation with our own comfort and survival takes a toll on everyone around us and on the planet itself. We have reached a moment in our history when we can no longer afford to let fear drive our lives – not if we want this species to continue to exist and to preserve this world for generations to come. We can no longer afford to be selfish, aggressive, wasteful, blind, always keeping our guard up, always on the lookout for threats and dangers, perpetually concerned with building a bubble for ourselves and those we love, lest anything should harm us. At a personal level our own fears and negative emotions make us sick physically and poison our relationships. At a collective level this planet can no longer contain all of us in our bubbles. It is time to build a single bubble that holds us all and our environment too. And such a giant bubble can only be built with love and trust.

How to explain all of this in an intelligible way? How to express this message without it sounding like philosophical, idealistic babble? How to talk to people who are caught up in the daily grind and get this message to genuinely touch them and change the vision they have for their lives, jobs, families and the future?

Reading my client’s email I realised that perhaps I was approaching that magic moment when these ideas truly reach the pragmatic audience in front of me, or perhaps the time has come when people really are ready to receive and reflect upon them.

Speaking about the psychometric measurement exercise I had done with her team, she writes, simply and beautifully, better than I could ever express:

“Red and green behaviours are really fight (red) and flight (green) reactions. Those for which our brain has been programming itself for tens of thousands of years. Blue behaviours (constructive ones) are those rooted in love, those which the sages of the world have been talking about for a very long time as being the next stage in human evolution. Humanity has started, here and there, to get out of the dark ages of fear, when fight and flight were essential for the survival of the species. We are learning to be “blue” and we are clumsy at it because it feels awkward, unnatural almost – the programming for such positive behaviours is not yet as deep. But it is paramount to become “blue” because this is the only way we can survive the next stage in our history – by collaborating instead of fighting. This has been said in many ways by countless sages, saints or outstanding people, such as Viktor Frankl. “

Dear ones, my invitation to you is to reflect on the emotions that drive your lives at the moment. What lies behind your most important life decisions or behind your reactions to those closest to you? Discover if you are living in fiear or in love and, if there is something to change, change it consciously. I can only hope that choosing love will lead you to happier, more peaceful, fulfilling, responsible lives, connecting you on a deeper level with the people you love and with the larger world.  May you have more “blue” in your lives!

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