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Five Self-indulgent Psychological Traps and How to Avoid Them

“Art, like morality consists in drawing the line somewhere.” ~G.K. Chesterton

Drawing the line somewhere is always easier said than done. When it comes to the self-indulgent traps in this article, it is doubly so. That’s because these traps seem to be good for us. And maybe they are, in moderation. But they trick us into thinking that we cannot get enough of them. They play upon our deep-seeded fear of not having enough. They fool us into thinking we will miss out, or lose out, or starve, or become a victim to any measure of tragedy. They lull us into a state of blind contentedness that has the tendency to cause deep closemindedness.

As with all things, awareness is a crucial first step. When we are aware of the potential for traps, we are less likely to be caught by them. The following self-indulgent traps are definitely not exhaustive, but they are the most crucial. Let’s break them down…

1.) Pride:

“To philosophize is to learn how to die.” ~Michel de Montaigne

No philosopher is self-made. There are always antecedent conditions. The universe was here before we were born, and it will be here after we’re dead. Our pride is little more than a snowflake on the tip of an iceberg that came before us, a speck atop a mountain of hard-earned ancestry.

We are a smug and vain species, even as we stare like a deer in headlights into eternity. We’re a solemn and self-important animal, even as we’re dwarfed by a suffocating and colossal universe. Our pride blinds us to the impact of our privilege.

We imagine that we are mature beings who have evolved above our baser animal instincts. But we are not. When it comes down to it, we are a laughably young species attempting to evolve on an extremely old planet which is hurtling through an unfathomably ancient universe. In the grand scheme of things, we’re a floundering baby of a species. Yet we imagine we are gods, above nature, with the tendency to neglect the fact that we are nature.

That’s okay. Humility can be our saving grace. It can help us get out of our own way. Humility is the searing pain of seeing the light upon exiting Plato’s Cave. It’s collapsing into a pile of existential angst in the Desert of the Real after transcending the Matrix. It puts the ego in check so that we can finally be authentic with ourselves.

2.) Comfort:

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” ~Cesar A. Cruz

Comfort zones are overrated. Adventure is underrated. A big reason why we live in a profoundly sick society (any society that poisons its air, water, food, and minds is profoundly sick) is that we’ve grown too comfortable. We live easy, unchallenged, lazy, low-risk lifestyles with little to no adventure. Even worse, we live fear-based rather than courage-based lifestyles which exacerbates the sick society.

Resist the urge to get too comfortable. Resist the urge to be lazy. Resist contentment and the propensity to become too comfortable in your comfort zone. Resist the slow death that comes from being caught in unhealthy, outdated patterns, so that you’re able to embrace the rebirth of new and healthier patterns.

It’s not merely rebellion for adventure’s sake. It’s rebellion for health’s sake. For the sake of flourishing. Upheaval is vital. The applecart must be upset from time to time so that the apples don’t rot. So that passion isn’t smothered by apathy. So that the call to adventure isn’t muffled by the all too comforting coo of complacency.

3.) Safety and security:

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~Goethe

The blue pill goes down so smooth, doesn’t it? Swallow it, relish in the sweet deception and blissful ignorance it provides—that soft pillowy cushion of safety and security. All you’ve got to do is not rock the boat, kowtow to authority, squabble at the feet of entrenched power, lick the boots of the hired thugs sent forth to enforce “law and order” at the barrel of a gun, all while willfully and ignorantly neglecting the fact that laws are fallible constructs designed by fallible men with too much power. All you’ve got to do is continue ignoring the red pill.

The bottom line is that there are too many whiney snowflakes crying about safety and security, and not enough courageous trailblazers willing to stretch their comfort zones at the risk of safety and security. That’s a problem. It leads to stagnation at best and regression at worst.

Choose courageous adaptability over conservative security. Our potential as a healthy evolving species is greatly hindered when safety and security are deemed more important than courage and adaptability. Because getting hung up on safety and security just keeps us entrenched in outdated modes of justice. But when we choose potential over safety, we’re less likely to get stuck in the first place. Besides, safety at the expense of freedom is a slippery slope into tyranny.

Rise above the “need” for safety and security at the expense of freedom and liberty. Become a well-armed lamb contesting all votes and proactively voting with your feet. Better yet, become a courageous lion and dare to become a brave David staring down the hyperviolent Goliath of the state.

4.) Blind belief and certainty: