Finding your truth and living an authentic life. It sounds hard, just by the sound of it. It sounds like a lot of soul searching and then rigid rules by which to live your life, almost. But the only truly hard part of this is the first step, and it is also the scariest part. And it doesn’t have to be about rigid rules or absolute truths, either.
There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.
For psychologists, distance is not just physical space. It is also psychological space, the degree to which you feel closely connected to someone else. You are describing psychological distance when you say that you feel “distant” from your spouse, “out of touch” with your kids’ lives, “worlds apart” from a neighbor’s politics, or “separated” from your employees. You don’t mean that you are physically distant from other people; you mean that you feel psychologically distant from them in some way. You’ve developed different beliefs than your spouse over time and have “grown apart,” your kids’ generation is so different from your own, or you work in a large corporation with more employees than you can name. These two features of social life—the magnitude of the gap between your own mind and others’ minds, and the motivation to reduce that gap—are critical for understanding when you engage your ability to think about other minds fully and when you do not.
Distance keeps your sixth sense disengaged for at least two reasons. First, your ability to understand the minds of others can be triggered by your physical senses. When you’re too far away in physical space, those triggers do not get pulled. Second, your ability to understand the minds of others is also engaged by your cognitive inferences. Too far away in psychological space—too different, too foreign, too other—and those triggers, again, do not get pulled. Understanding how these two triggers—your physical senses and your cognitive inferences—engage you with the mind of another person is essential for understanding the dehumanizing mistakes we can make when we remain disengaged.
Children make meaning out of the events they witness and the things that happen to them, and they create an internal map of how the world is. This meaning-making helps them cope. But if children don’t create a new internal map as they grow up, their old way of interpreting the world can damage their ability to function as adults.
We might feel that emotional regulation is about feeling okay. However, it is reasonable to assume that “feeling okay” is just the reward we get for listening to our emotions. My assumption is that emotions are there to motivate you to do the right thing. For instance, fear makes you run away from threats, love encourages you to invest in a (hopefully) beneficial relationship, and anger fuels your desire to protect your rights. From this perspective, emotions are the instant priority list of survival. Of course they can be far from flawless, but they most often encourage us to move in the right direction before we even realize that there is any such thing as a right direction.
This exercise will be to spend one or two weeks observing everything you are doing, trying to do as little as possible that is purely self serving and do as much as possible in serving other people for the sake of serving. Although you may prefer to serve animals instead of humans, it is important to make this exercise a service to humans. Do things not because you will get credit, not because people will think what a wonderful person you are, but do things anonymously. If you serve at the soup kitchen for the homeless as an example, do not give out your full name, do not say anything about yourself so that no one can give you credit. Do not tell anyone, friends, family, what you have done so that you cannot attain any credit whatsoever for your acts. You will observe how much your ego wants to do good things only if you can get credit for them, which would be self serving. This is the EXERCISE of attaining liberation through being of selfless service to others. Giving to gain credit or acknowledgment is not pure, true giving and will not bring the highest benefits.
ALL THE BEST
Some people are motivated more by doing things, whilst others are motivated more by avoiding things.
People who are driven towards doing things tend to have positive goals and seek to achieve specific things. They are forward-looking and see the world as being full of opportunity. They generally have a passion and desire to succeed in order to gain either specific rewards or general recognition.
They focus is largely on the future and when they have achieved something they may even forget about it in the headlong charge into further challenges.
Some people have problems with this in that they are attracted to too many things. They dart from one opportunity to another, seeking gratification all over the place. They may be looking for something and they may not yet know what they want.
Those who are driven to avoid things something look like they are attracted to the things they are actually doing, but they are actually looking more over their shoulder than in front of them. For example people who are very energetic at work may be driven more by a worry about failure or criticism than by an attraction towards achievement.
Those who are avoidance-driven focus more by their fears than their desires (which may well be fears in disguise).
Avoidance can be a high-stress preference. We may be generally driven by attraction when things are going well, but when we are threatened or otherwise experience high levels of stress, we may use an avoidance strategy to get away from that discomfort.
A problem with avoidance when compared to attraction is that there are many directions in which to run away from something, yet only one way you can run towards something. Motivating a person by triggering avoidance is not necessarily a helpful approach.
For those who are driven by attraction, seek their passions and lay opportunity in their path. They will swoop towards what you are offering.
For those driven by avoidance, point out the problems of the past and the dangers of the present. Show them a future where they can at least avoid the worst of the problems they face.
Any psychologist will tell you that we are all quick to lie to ourselves. Having a consciousness (and a conscience) essentially means that you also come equipped with your own, personal, subconscious defenses. We all have a system of barricades, automatic responses, and various means of self-delusion – some of us have more of a capacity for it than others. Beneath this subterfuge, the reality of everything lies partially hidden from our witness. People who are genuinely bad people will be subconsciously aware of their nature, regardless of how they consciously view themselves. The guilt of repetitive bad actions, intentionally hurting people, negatively influencing lives, will have just as much influence on their section of the eternal energy in the astral realm. So, a good person who consciously sacrifices for the betterment of the world and those around them would also be influencing their portion of the astral. Our subconscious is the scale which weighs our sins, and the goodness of life, all of the positive energy which recycles through our universe and all good intention, is the judge…to a very little extent.
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