Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Intimidation Factor

Have you ever been part of a discussion where what was discussed went way over your head? Were there facts being thrown around and then jumped on by someone else to the point that not only could you not follow the current portion of the conversation, but the original point now was lost on you? Do you get intimidated in these types of conversations? If you answered yes, then you are perfectly normal. If you answered no, well then, congratulations, you're special (leave me your home address and I'll send you a cookie).

For those that answered yes, you are either new to Neopaganism and you just don't have the knowledge base to keep up quite yet or you are someone who just has no interest in getting that in depth with the facts. If you fall in line with the latter, then don't worry about those conversations. Just sit back and ignore them until the conversation turns to a topic you are much more interested in. There is no reason for you to be intimidated because in the end, you really don't need to care. You're wrapped in your security blanket of knowing what you know and not wanting to know what you don't, so be happy with that portion of your spiritual journey. No need to feel intimidated.

For all those new folks, you have a choice to make and I would make it fast or you might just find yourself packing up any interest because one person on some group somewhere called into question one of your statements, ruffling your feathers enough for you to begin believing that that one person is indicative of every person on that path and now you want nothing to do with it. Trust me, it happens every day and you could lose out on a fulfilling spiritual existence because you had one bad interaction with someone where you felt too intimidated to continue on this path and just gave up. So here are you choices; option 1 would be to let happen what I just gave you an example of in these last few sentences and walk away. Option 2 would be to become like the person I mentioned above who has no interest at all in learning anything beyond the topics that peek their fancy and sticking only to specific topics because that is, essentially, what makes them happy on this path. Then there is option 3, to embrace the intimidation and do something about it.

It may seem like I'm being a bit condescending in regards to options 1 and 2. With option 1, I am absolutely being condescending. Making sweeping declarations about a group of people because of a disagreement with one member of it is an informal fallacy, illogical, and, to be completely honest, absurd. If the interactions that you have with one or two people you disagree with dictate a propensity to give up something you want, then you aren't going to get far in life. With option 2, my intent is actually not to be patronizing at all. I do have a certain amount of respect for those who can easily walk away from discussions or debates because they are simply comfortable with not needing to know. There are definitely times when I wish I had the ability to do so, but I'm not a fan of succumbing to my feelings of intimidation and walking away without a fight and so we come to my point in writing this.

If option 3 is your choice, or perhaps like me, is just part of your nature, then here is my suggestion. Take inspiration from those who do sit back, but don't ignore the conversation. Take notes. Any time a key word is hit, or a name is brought up, or a book is mentioned, or an author's name is dropped, or a website is given, write it down. Any good conversation or debate can probably get you a list of four or five things. Then, go research. Go to your favorite search engine and start typing. Find out about the name that was brought up. Go out and find a copy of the book that was mentioned. Look up all the books written by the author that was brought up and try to find a copy of them. It gets simple from there. Read. If it doesn't make sense, read it again. Take more notes. Any names or places dropped in those books or websites, go look them up. Any books in the bibliography or works cited section, look them up and try to find them. Educate yourself. Be proactive.

Don't get involved in those discussions, get intimidated and give up. Look at those discussions, get intimidated, then get active. Learn everything you can. The more you learn, the more you can start basing your own opinions off of what you have learned. Then, as things progress, you will at least be able to follow the conversation from beginning to end. Before you know it, you'll be participating in those conversations yourself and others may come to you for help. Don't look at those moments of intimidation as moments to be ashamed of. Look at them as opportunities to learn and grow in your own spiritual quest. Eventually, you won't be so intimidated anymore.

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