Rubatosis: the unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.
Ancient Greek aphorism
Not all the things we find in our heart are agreeable.
Father Erik Varden,
Abbott of Mount St Bernard Abbey, Leicestershire, UK
... it must be good for anyone to think “Perhaps in some way I can't see, I may be
on a bad path, perhaps I am hopelessly wrong in some essential way.”
G E M Anscombe – “Modern Moral Philosophy”, Philosophy 33, no. 124, January 1958
The thing that haunts me more than anything else is the thought that I could unwittingly
be the author of my own unhappiness – unhappiness so surprising that it never entered
my head that things could play out that way. It is the ultimate in powerlessness
– not just the thought that nothing I do really matters, but that things I do could
matter and actually make things worse.
ME Thomas – “Confessions of a Sociopath”
... if you do not know yourself, your unconscious as well as your conscious states,
all your inquiry will be twisted, given a bias. You will have no foundation for
thinking which is rational, clear, logical, sane. Your thinking will be according
to a certain pattern, formula, or set of ideas – but that is not really thinking.
To think clearly, logically, without becoming neurotic, without being caught in
any form of illusion, you have to know this whole process of your own consciousness,
Hell is a world of lies
Hell is not knowing who you are. Self-deception divides you from yourself. If you
can accept who you really are, including your “shadow”, the parts of yourself you
are scared of or don’t like, you can become whole. What you don’t face in yourself
you will project onto others. We need to create a safe place inside ourselves where
we can see our real self; our real thoughts, feelings and attitudes. Observe a feeling.
Acknowledge it, describe it. Let it do its job of telling you something. Accept
the fear, pain and humiliation that you are hiding from yourself.
Our minds are always limited compared with reality. Accept sometimes being wrong.
Truth is love. If we don’t face the truth then we are stuck.
There are two worlds, the inner and the outer. The more we can connect with ourselves,
the more we can connect with others.
False voice, real voice?
How do we tell a false voice from a real voice? We can all be driven by self-importance,
by greed, hatred or ignorance (making assumptions). The false voice does not see
its own motivation. The real voice can see the self-importance, greed, anger, desire,
fear, hurt, shame, the motivations guiding its thoughts, and is not consumed by them.
What we can see in ourselves we are free of.
Self-deception – one of the most dangerous things in the world
Self-deception is the ego defense of Rationalisation: making excuses to oneself to
try to pretend that things are different from how they really are.
We may be ignorant of how things really are, and therefore blind to it. We may be
blind because we subconsciously hide the truth from ourselves because of the uncomfortable
way it makes us feel. We may be blind to it just because we don’t care enough about
it to take it into consideration.
Mental noting and emotional intelligence
Meditation is linked to self-awareness. In meditation we gain insight into the nature
of reality and the self; observing our thoughts, emotions and bodily feelings as
they really are.
... language helps us to be aware of our feelings, bringing them into rational thought.
If we don’t have a chance for our feelings to be understood as a child, something
called validation, as an adult we will tend to react impulsively. Research has shown
that people involved in violent fights often can’t put their feelings into words;
anger makes them hit out where the act of bringing feelings into thought through
the use of words would tame angry impulses. We don’t just depend on those around
us to learn language to communicate practical things as we grow up, we depend on
them to help us use it to tame our emotions, to exercise self-control.
Penny Spikins – “How Compassion Made Us Human – the evolutionary origins of tenderness,
trust & morality”
Faced with total social isolation, I had no choice but to try to be completely honest
I started to realise how little I knew about myself or why I did the things I did
(or still do). I didn’t like not knowing who I was, so I decided to develop a friendly
curiosity about myself. I watched myself for about nine months without judgment
or self-manipulation. I wasn’t an ascetic, but I was intent on discovering my true
self. My guiding principles during that time were unflinching honesty and acceptance.
I thought that if I could garner enough self-knowledge, I could inch myself to happiness
or whatever else it was I wanted in life, like a prisoner carving his way out of
a concrete wall with a makeshift pick.
At the end of the nine months I had come to a few conclusions. First, I didn’t really
have a self at all. I was like an Etch A Sketch, constantly shaking myself up and
starting over. And somewhere, somehow, in the last few years, I had come to believe
certain things about myself that weren’t really true. For instance, because I often
am very charming and outwardly good-natured, I thought that I must be a warm-hearted
person. Pretending to conform to societal expectations had become so easy that I
forgot I was pretending. I read all of these coming-of-age books about people growing
up and growing out of childhood quirks and I felt like that is what had happened
to me. In reality, I had just lost the self-awareness that I had as a child and
even a teenager. Several things that I had come to believe were mirages, and when
I inspected them closer they disappeared, leaving absolutely nothing. I quickly
realized that, almost without exception, this was true about everything in my life.
All of the stories I had recently been spinning about myself were illusions – gaps
occupied by part of my brain to fill in a hole, the same way our brain will sometimes
fill in gaps in an optical illusion. I had told myself that I was normal, perhaps
just a little too smart, but that my feelings were genuine and typical of a young
woman my age. Now I felt like I had woken up from a dream. Without actively spinning
stories, I had no self. If I had been Buddhist on my path to seeking Nirvana, this
lack of self would have been a huge breakthrough, but I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment
at having achieved that state. Instead I felt the only way anyone can ever feel
without a sense of self – free.
Of course I knew that there were things that I did when I was “engaged”. I laughed
and plotted. I manipulated a lot, I realized. Manipulation was my default mode
of relating with people. Every relationship felt like a dance of giving and taking
that I was constantly trying to choreograph, gauging which dance partners would serve
my interests best. I liked things like power and excitement. I had no real interest
in the content of my activities, just the skill with which I did them. I loved to
seduce, not just sexually, but to inhabit someone’s mind so completely, and it was
easy – easy to charm. I was a prolific liar, often for no real reason. I was a
pleasure seeker, and although I had no real sense of what my self was, I still thought
very well of myself. I didn’t need a self to exist. I had a unique role in the
world: I was like an enzyme among molecules, catalyzing reactions without being affected
myself. Or a virus, looking for a host. I was different from normal people, but
I knew that I existed. I acted and interacted. I was largely an illusion, but even
an illusion is real in its own way – people experience it, and more important, people
respond to it.