The boar stands, sniffing the wind.
His blood will soon fertilise the ground in sad, sodden spurts.
For now he stiffens, hair on end, alert. Piggy ears have heard me, but porcine brain has not processed bow-hunting humans in the past.
Seventy pounds of force sit between my two hands as I aim the bow. My heart races, keenly feeling the abyss of taking a life before me. The boar and I stand frozen, in a state of incredible tension.
This terrible anxiety yearns for release. My guts want it to be over. I don’t even care if I get the boar. All I want is a result. I shoot and I hit, or I shoot and I miss. Either way, a result.
This, my friends, is weakness.
This is the way most people live their lives. The moment tension arrives they want it over. They’ll do their best to end the twisting, grabbing fingers gnarling their way into their guts. They can’t handle the gnawing sensations of uneasiness, and the yawning, sometimes snarling, abyss that threatens to upset their balance.
These people will happily let life stomp all over them if it means they don’t have to feel anxiety. They are the ones who cannot meet their bosses eye, who rush through confrontation, who “just get it over with” in everything, with everyone, every single time.
The inability to withstand the force of bodily chemicals is weakness. The body-mind dialogue goes something like this:
Body: “I don’t know whats gonna happen here, and this appears to be similar to another situation which ended badly. I’m gonna prepare you for the worst!”
Brain: “Oh My. Body has just released the Holy-Shit-Bad-Stuff-Is-Gonna-Go-Down-Chem-Combo. I’d better ignore all the evidence in front of me that says everything is cool, and follow body’s lead.”
Body: “THIS ADRENALINE RUSH IS MAKING ME SUPER-RESTLESS HOMIES… so I’m gonna force something to happen through my actions to release the tension I’m feeling.”
Brain:”Oh Fuck. Willpower: Down. Self-Control: Down. Logical thought: Down. Shit gonna hit the fan. Sooner we get a Result, the sooner we can get this ship back to homeostasis-thingy.”
Body is losing his shit because somewhere along the way he has noticed a trigger. A trigger might be social or psychological, a product of a long forgotten negative memory, or an actual dangerous sign. Except for real danger, it’s useful to hold the tension until brain can make sense of it and force the body to act in a useful manner.
In other words, hold the tension until you get what you want.
Tension is a growth medium. It’s fertiliser. He who can hold tension the longest grows the most, but only if it is eventually allowed to enter it’s sister state, relaxation. One cannot exist without the other, but people certainly enter one state then refuse to leave, rather like a refugee. Some examples:
- The Entrepreneur – He works hard, plays hard, and endures endless tension and anxiety. He quickly builds a high tolerance to tension, but his inability to truly relax eventually leads to burnout.
- The Iron Lady – She loves domination, confrontation, and watching people squirm under her gaze. Often these women (and their male counterparts) carry this tension in their bodies. Watch for tight facial muscles, strong jaws from clenching, and high shoulders from inadequate breathing and stress.
- The Marshmallow – These people fold like yoga chicks when under pressure. Their tension tolerance is too low. They rarely relax either, because they operate in emergency mode. People often take advantage of them because they cannot say “no”.
How do you increase tension tolerance?
- Practice saying No. When you don’t want to *insert unwanted horrible thing* stand up for yourself. Don’t suck metaphorical cock like a TV presenter, do what you want. I sure as fuck appreciate it when people tell me NO, rather then a tentative yes, and leave me out in the rain like Nicholas Cage in the godawful Weatherman while they eat corn-chips on a polar bear rug in front of re-runs of A Simple Life. This is hands-down the easiest way to quickly improve your tolerance. It will be difficult. A lifetime of saying yes to everyone for everything has reduced your backbone to spray cheese, and you need to Pecorino Romano that shit up. When you say no, the unknown will rise like Cthulu from the deep, with the wash of anxiety breaking against your pathetically small form. But you will grow, and will eventually stare down upon that slack-jawed, tentacly motherfucker like the baby clam he is. Fuck you Cthulu.
- Stop being a Psychic. You start feeling anxious about something. “It doesn’t feeeeel right”, you whine, like a four year old girl to her uncle Kevin. You are giving absolute credence to a chemical reaction. Your body is feeling habitual discomfort in this specific situation which makes you want to avoid it. You then call this feeling ‘intuition’ and tell yourself you’re psychic, that you *Just Know* that something bad will happen. Skip all that, admit that your body feels anxious, then continue anyway.
- Deliberately put yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable. I put off breaking my gym-going virginity for years. I didn’t know how to use the machines, I didn’t understand the social structure, I didn’t know the process for working out. It was all too much, and it created incredible tension when I though about going. Facing this tension transmuted the anxiety around gym-going into a lesson about trying new things.
Back to that pig.
I hold my breath as the boar relaxes. This bastard son of pork will soon be garnishing my plate, I think.
I release. The arrow flies.