THE QUEEN OF THE CANOPY
The Naked and Stranded Homo Sapiens Sapiens
© 2013 Marianna Koos
Introduction to THE QUEEN OF THE CANOPY
A glass of wine after a difficult day is a great delight, isn’t it? Watching Casablanca, glued to the couch, and eating ice cream is also another way to ease our stress, put our problems on the shelf, and escape for a while. Engaging in activities like these is certainly a common way to temporarily deal with what’s bothering us. We all do this from time to time. When we are healthy, we are able to bounce back quickly and regain our emotional balance in a few hours, or perhaps in a few days. There are times when even after drinking many glasses of champagne, watching meaningless movies for days, playing computer games endlessly, consuming several chocolate cakes, or exhausting our best friend by talking about our problems we still feel miserable. What do we do, or can do? Well, we all deal with upset, frustration, or anger differently. Some of us get lazy, stop doing, or simply procrastinate, while others use food, alcohol, or even drugs as their preferred medicine. None of these activities result in positive outcomes, neither in the short- nor in the long-term. These new behaviours, although help us ease the symptoms, will not solve our problems. Habits like excessive drinking and eating are not easy to break, especially once they are incorporated in our every day lives. Unless we recognise that the solution to our problem is to deal with the problem itself, which caused our new behaviour in the first place, we may be predestined to walk on the road of long-term suffering. There are times when instead of engaging in self-destructive behaviours, we just let things go, give-in to the outside pressures and surrender. This could happen when we fear of losing something or someone. When we overestimate the true value of the loss we face, either it is a job or a relationship, we will be more inclined to act and behave contradictory to our values and beliefs, and let our environment determine our destiny. This could result in regrets and resentments in the long run. Situations like these could ignite bitterness, unkindness, disapproval, anger, and also could shatter our self-respect.
We seldom realise that the cause of our misery today is due to some of the bad choices we made in the past. We make tons of decisions every day without even thinking about their consequences. We have the tendency to think short-term, aim for instant gratifications, and underestimate the yet to come effects of our decisions. When we are not careful we could easily make a wrong call, resulting in life-long negative emotions, such as guilt, shame, and regret, and also physical suffering. These complex and self-directed emotions overtime could also give rise to a negative mindset that do not only influence and shape our personalities, but also affect our future baseline behaviours; make us more vulnerable to attract similar bad experiences; or become potential subjects of serious manipulation, mental or physical abuse. Bad judgments could have detrimental effects on us and in the long run, could numb our coherent senses, generate false perceptions, intensify our negative emotions, and consequently paralyse our normal functioning, as a human being on all levels: mental, emotional, and physical. Every decision we ever make leads to some kind of outcome. Either it is trivial or significant, positive or negative, immediate or long-term. Our decisions always come with consequences. When our system is in the state of emotional disharmony, we perceive the world around us rather negatively. Therefore we are prone to choose poorly. The accumulation of all the decisions affects the way our life takes shape, and also the person, who we become in the end. Making good decisions is highly conditioned on our ability to understand and manage our emotions. We have great ability to think rationally, but it doesn’t mean that we always thoroughly assess every possible option and choose wisely. Most of us like to think we do, but it is very much an illusion. We more often than not underestimate the great power and influence our emotions have on our everyday decisions. Our emotions are born without our conscious awareness as a result of our experiences. Therefore how we feel is always the outcome of how we perceive an experience. Regardless how rational we are, our emotions, either positive or negative, have great power over the choices we make, and could easily overrule our logical reasoning. Good decisions, without a doubt, require us to have emotional balance.
My ambition has always been to understand why we humans are so weak at making the right choices in the best interest of our long-term welfare, and why we hold so many false beliefs that often lead to destructive behaviours. After reading thousands of books, bad and good alike, many related to these topics; analysing my experiences, emotions, and actions; and also interviewing and observing others, I have come to the conclusion that the answer lies in the emotion fear. For one reason or another, we never really talk about our emotions, particularly our fears, even less understand their direct impact on our every day decisions, and most importantly their great influence on our ability to realise our dreams. I also hold the notion that our inability to forgive ourselves for the bad choices we made in the past greatly increases our chances to keep choosing poorly. I firmly believe that our unfounded fears and our disregard towards self-forgiveness are the biggest roadblocks of our happiness.
Fear is the primary emotion behind our most intricate, unpleasant and stressful experiences, and the strongest negative sensation we can ever experience. Fear is also an unseen part of many complex and blended emotions, such as shame, guilt, jealousy, stress, and anxiety. Fear makes us emotionally apprehensive, narrows our concentration to think and for this reason alone, is our number one enemy. Our unfounded fears fuel senseless decisions, and can significantly increase our chances to choose badly. Unlike positive emotions that enlarge our focus and inspire us to explore, fear confines our attention to one thing only. And that is to fight or escape from the threat. Fear prevents us to recognise the options we have in a given situation, and also blocks us from accurately assessing the long-term consequences of our choices.
Today fear is fully incorporated in our lives and mostly not about real threats that require us to act with pressing urgency. Rather about future events that have either zero or low probabilities to manifest. We have a remarkable ability to invent threats that are groundless. Our strong desire to affect, shape, and determine our future, and our extreme hunger for cast-iron certainty have made us a highly fearful species. Our exceptional ability to plan ahead certainly aided us to rise to the top of the food chain. This unique skill however, now has become the driving force behind our daily worries and anxieties. Today, we have limited capacity to accept that even the most carefully prepared plan can be crushed by an unanticipated event. We often forget that uncertainty is the most certain truth of our lives that we have a choice to either embrace or fear of. Our environment, more specifically our social order also plays a critical role in stimulating and fortifying our fears. Under social order I mean our institutional structures, relations, customs, values, and practices that impose the patterns of how we interact with each other. Fear’s dominance in our human history goes far back to the times of ancient magical rituals that provoked the fear of human sacrifices. This was followed by religious deeds that greatly amplified our fears and also induced the fear of punishment. Our progress in science and technology has undoubtedly added more and more chills to our already rich fear collection. Today, fear is also a marketing tool, a reason for making more profit. Marketing messages energise our insecurities and often target the most vulnerable sectors of our society. Fear is not only the stimulus for spending our money without need, but also the main cause of our bad habits and obsessive behaviours. I am not only referring to the commonly known addictions. We invented many new ones that today are classified as accepted behaviours. Yet when we look closer, we realise that many of our daily ‘habits’ hold the characteristics of addiction. Addiction is particularly chilling, as it makes our emotional behaviour highly dominant, while forcing our ability to act rationally into the background. Compulsive behaviours develop in response to our hidden and unconscious fears that our perceptions of our experiences ignite. Our emotionally driven state blocks us from making sensible choices and also limits our chances to recover from addiction. There are several support systems today that provide help to people with addiction problems, however, with disappointing results. One issue that prevents our society to solve the growing problem of addiction, is our general attitude towards addiction, and the people who suffer from it. We tend to think that addiction is the problem of the addict. This however, cannot be further from the truth. We live in societies, which means that we interact with one another on a daily basis. Therefore we cannot isolate ourselves from others’ wrong decisions and bad behaviours. Either the impact is direct or indirect, the actions of those who choose poorly, or suffer from addiction, affect us all. We must remember that addiction is a potential source for violence and aggression, which brings more fear and illness into our lives. The second issue that blocks us from solving our society’s increased compulsive dependence, is our limited capacity and desire to learn about the damaging effects of our negative emotions, particularly our illogical fears. Fear interferes with our rational thinking, disturbs our emotional balance, and sparks turbulence in the way we make decisions, consequently dangers the overall health and welfare of our societies. When we neglect to deal with our fears, or deny the existence of our emotional issues, aside from hurting ourselves, we deposit more toxins in our society. Unless we are well and act as rational individuals, we are not much help to others, and most likely make other people’s lives miserable too. It might be difficult to accept, but today a great percentage of the population is accustomed to misery, which clearly signals that the problem we face is much more serious than we think.
It is however inevitable that at one point or another in our lives, we make a wrong call. We all have made bad decisions in the past and will certainly make more in the future. The real problem surfaces when we refuse to admit that we made the wrong decision and blame others for our wrongdoing; when we don’t take the time to learn from our bad decisions and keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again; and when we don’t invest in improving. There are many people who do not believe that exercising self-forgiveness, and truly committing to make better choices in the future, is the key to deal with the emotional consequences of the bad decisions they made in the past. Although our incapacity to forgive is very poisonous to our welfare, in our society the true value of self-forgiveness has remained mostly ‘out of site, out of mind’. As a virtue in philosophy and a more recently studied subject by science, with theories how immensely it impacts us, the true power of self-forgiveness and its effects on all of us is not widely understood. For some people forgiveness is just a motion or gesture, some on the other hand view it, as a commandment of faith or a set of feelings. Some people claim that true forgiveness doesn’t exist. Others say that forgiveness requires two parties and it is only about forgiving others. Today very few people fully understand that forgiveness affects all of us, with absolutely no exception. Our incapacity to forgive ourselves for the bad choices we made causes long-term resentments and animosities, which are widespread today. Life would be easy, if by exercising forgiveness our negative feelings would diminish in an instant. Unfortunately this is hardly ever the case. Negative emotions such as anger and shame, often get attached to us, and stay with us long after the actual experience that ignited them. Negative experiences could change who we are, and alter our values and beliefs. Experiences that seriously violate our basic life conventions can deeply affect our thinking and mindset moving forward. Some people are able to overrule their pain caused by an unpleasant experience; others maybe more prone to seek revenge. Most of us however are inclined to repress and forbear our negative feelings. None of these approaches, to deal with our emotional issues, have positive outcomes. When we block our negative emotions, we simply resent dealing with them; therefore we cannot expect any change in how we feel. To free ourselves from negative emotions, we have some decisions to make. We can forgive the person, who hurt us. This is highly reasonable and often very difficult to do. When we forgive another person we may realise as time goes by, that we still hold resentments, and in some cases we may even experience repeated harm done to us, by the same person. Forgiving the other person doesn’t erase our negative emotions, nor it prevents that individual to harm us again. Even when we forgive someone, the wrongdoing may keep occurring, causing our negative emotions to intensify. The reason for this is very simple. We have no control over any other person’s actions. Forgiving another person does not change that individual’s behaviour. This means that we will remain at the mercy of our harmer, regardless of our moral action to forgive. Another option is to exercise self-forgiveness. I warn you, this is far from being non-sense. It makes perfect sense. Self-forgiveness is not a gesture, nor a one-time act. It is a personal development on the moral, emotional, and behavioural levels to deal with our negative emotions. Self-forgiveness looks inward, and it is conditioned on our commitment to acknowledge and accept responsibility for our own decisions and actions, and change the way we behave. Self-forgiveness is a long and difficult process. It requires a serious self-trial that objectively scrutinises our own motives, perceptions, and behaviours. For many people accepting responsibility for their bad decisions and mistakes is a very painful undertaking. Exercising self-forgiveness is the remedy to heal the emotional consequences of our bad decisions.
I wrote the book of “The Queen of the Canopy”, because I believe that our species stands for greatness, our individual contribution matters, and it is also our responsibility to develop ourselves, share our knowledge with others, in the best interest of our current generations and of those coming after us. We, as a group of Homo Sapiens Sapiens, also known as the ‘man who knows’, own a gift for rational reasoning, therefore have the capacity to plan, build, and invent. We have certainly excelled, developed great things, and today we dominate our planet. Our focus and uncontrollable persistence however, to control our environment including the ‘heavens’ has undoubtedly pushed our ambition to understand the underlying threat we face into the background. Without knowing how to regulate our negative emotions, make rational decisions, we might be destined to failure in the future. Our remarkable ability for logical reasoning has enabled us to thrive, despite our physical limitations. We have expanded our capabilities towards a safer and more comfortable life that has also given rise to disintegration, and the general tendency of living life without thinking. Today our life, in most parts of the world, is much more orderly and comfortable, with fewer daily challenges and threats, less demanding physically, and more shallow intellectually that one would expect. Most things we do on a daily basis are uncomplicated; don’t require our utmost attention and creativity. Despite the overall comfort we enjoy, today we are less content, more impatient, and also less tolerant without fully understanding the reasons why. We tend to ignore the signs, which clearly portray our emotional imbalance caused by our endless fears. This psychologically unstable emotional state impairs our decision-making abilities to choose wisely. It is unquestionably true that fear is the most common stimulus for the bad choices we make. Fear, by and large, prevents human prosperity, and perhaps it has already put a brake on some areas of your life. It is however, inevitable to live without fear. Our emotional state has always been, and always will be challenged by our fears. Either it is the fear of the unknown, losing control, being hurt, judged, isolated, rejected, betrayed, or undervalued. Our fears affect the way we think of ourselves, and rule our perceptions of the world we live in. Our unawareness of how our fears threaten our long-term welfare; limit our abilities to make rational decisions; create mental chaos; and ultimately breed health problems; is where the fundamental problem lies. Our fears, either self-induced or provoked by our environment, can result in penetrating emotional experiences, and if persist in our lives, can increase our chances to have serious health problems. Every year billions are spent on illnesses, caused by stress, for which our fears are very much responsible. Acquiring the knowledge of how to manage our fears, make more sensible decisions, and act like the ‘man who knows’, not only his environment, but also himself is vital to our welfare and our species’ healthy future. In order to achieve mental clarity, we need to have the ability to recognise what motivates our fears, what fuels our negative emotions, and also know how to falsify, rather than endorse our deceptive fears. Without emotional harmony how can we expect to understand others, parent our children, and lead an organisation?
I firmly believe that education – apart from decreasing inequality in the world – increases one’s earning potential and overall welfare, as well as greatly enhances one’s decision-making abilities that ultimately leads to living a more meaningful and certainly a happier life. Today, there are still 740 million illiterate people in this world, many primary school aged children without basic reading and writing skills, or access to books that could provide them with the knowledge they seek. In the meanwhile, most fluent adult readers, who have practically unlimited access to all literature that have ever been published, read less than one book a year. Some people argue that quality matters, more than quantity, when it comes to books. This view deserves a consideration, but unfortunately misses the most important point. I believe that by being exposed to a wider range of possibilities, different theories of a particular topic, regardless if these agree or disagree with our views, is very beneficial for us. Books, that resonate with us, tend to validate our perceptions, even those that may be false. Valuing only those books, which echo our thoughts, while disregarding the ones that create disparity between our views and the authors’ beliefs, can prevent us to grow. Books that challenge our set ideas can make us stronger and better, more flexible and understanding, and most importantly can help us make better choices and certainly wiser moral decisions in life. Reading more can also increase our self-awareness, the foundation of understanding others.
My doctoral dissertation on fear and forgiveness, following my research in natural settings rather than in a controlled environment, has helped me to learn a great deal of these two important concepts. I am confident, that my book will resonate with you (one it is published), or perhaps challenge your current beliefs, but in the end help you to identify your fears, make better decisions, and find true remedy in self-forgiveness.
Therefore, I am asking you to please help me to raise funds to publish "THE QUEEN OF CANOPY" therefore make it available to a wider range of audience, especially to those, who can benefit from it the most.
Thank you very much in advance for your generosity! I wish you all well!