Posts Tagged ‘Self-Awareness’

Thoughts: Your Best Friends and Worst Enemies

October 20, 2013

Getting control of my thoughts—or rather disconnecting my sense of self from my thoughts—is a big thing in my own life.   I could easily make myself miserable by wanting things that I can’t have and that wouldn’t make me happy if I did have them.  Or by letting myself be eaten up by resentments over things that I can’t do anything about and that don’t matter to begin with.

A Way in the Woods

Maybe you don’t have any trouble with your thoughts, but I do. Thoughts pop into my mind without my permission faster than a mosquito bites my skin on a sweltering summer afternoon. And, equally without my permission.

Descartes, father of modern philosophy, pointed to both the distinguishing characteristic of human beings and to the biggest curse of human beings when he made his famous statement, “I think. Therefore, I am.”

The fact that you and I can think, reflect on the past, imagine the future, even to be conscious of our own consciousness is what distinguishes humans from all other animals. The fact that you and I can think, reflect and so often regret the past, imagine and so often fear the future, even to be unconscious of our own capacity to be conscious is the biggest curse humans live with and so try to escape from almost continually.


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The dying are incapable of BS

September 15, 2013

Hospice worker Kathleen Taylor talks about people who really do live each day as if it might be their last, and wonders what it would be like for everyone to live at that level of self-awareness and honesty.

Click on Regrets of the Dying for more on this topic.

Hat tips to Beyond Meds and A Way in the Woods.

The self-actuating tape recorder of my mind

December 2, 2012

Double click to enlarge.

I’m prone to what I call playing “tapes” in my mind—going over conversations in the past in which I failed to respond to someone who insulted me or insulted someone else or said something vicious or stupid that ought to be contradicted, and editing the “tape” so that I responded the way I would like to have.  Unlike the person described above, I am able (or think I am able) to keep separate what happened and what I would have liked to happen.  But at the same time, it is important to me to turn these tapes off.

  • Going over these conversations does me no good, and it does neither good nor harm to the other party in the conversation.
  • My anger is not really directed at the other person.  It is directed at myself for failing to respond adequately.
  • My failure to respond adequately is at least partly and maybe mainly due to my being preoccupied with myself and not fully engaged with what is going on around me.

I can’t help feeling whatever negative emotion I happen to feel — anger, regret, self-recrimination — but I have a choice as to whether I rationalize, justify and cultivate these feelings, or let them go.  The same is true of positive emotions — love, aesthetic pleasure, mastery.

Since these feelings and thoughts come into my mind seemingly by themselves and not by my decision, then “I” am something different from my feelings and thoughts.  What is that something?

I found the graphic above on Ido Lanuel’s To Be Aware web log.