Inner dialogue

People have conflicting impulses and feelings in their minds at the same time. Sometimes they diverge enough to make different personalities, or have arguments in consciousness. Here’s the brilliant First Dog on the Moon cartoon, which though generally about Australian politics is universal enough to read anywhere: Relocating is pretty much the best thing we have ever done but don’t come down here I don’t recommend it at all it is terrible. We hold these contradictory ideas in our minds, all the time, in tension, and make a decision when one becomes definitively stronger. We want to be trusted by others, to present a reliable, consistent face to the world, so that tension can be painful.

Sometimes, we simply deny it: cognitive dissonance is the pain when the fight to deny it is too wearing. Living with the tension may be an answer to that pain, but is difficult. I am human, therefore I am inconsistent, I remind myself, “seeing through a glass, darkly”.

I am open, curious, gentle, encouraging, loving. I wish to play, explore, learn, understand. I seek delight in beauty, which is everywhere. I am angry, frustrated, fearful, hurt, withdrawn. I wish to escape, hide, protect myself. I seek Safety, which is a chimera.

I am angry at myself for hiding, and frightened of consequences if I am exposed. People can burn out.

Audrey Hepburn said, People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw anyone out. I believe that. It applies to me. Possibly, other people believe it as well, even of me.

This is a long article, but search in it for Rollnick: a pioneer of Motivational Interviewing, he shows that bullying alcoholics into admitting they have a problem and should bloody well just stop drinking does not work, stresses the clients, but-

ah, expressing the positive is the important bit. It’s far more difficult to see, but the only thing worth seeing. Here’s that article: rather than instigating confrontation, counsellors should focus on building a relationship of trust and mutual understanding, enabling the patient to talk through his experiences without feeling the need to defend himself. Eventually, and with the counsellor gently shaping the dialogue, the part of the patient that wanted to get better would overcome the part that did not, and he would make the arguments for change himself. Having done so, he would be motivated to follow through on them.

But “Overcome” is a fundamental misunderstanding. I can speak from my Open self or my Withdrawn self, but they are in one brain, not conveniently in different lobes as Steve Peters might have you believe. I am making judgments based on observation and experience. First Dog may loathe the spiders and love the pademelons, until an eagle kills his cat and the place becomes unbearable, or he finds more and more things to love and settles.

There are no rules. Self-image and the need to present a face to the World may make me strive and succeed, or break me. I saw myself as one who reads, for entertainment, culture and learning, but did not actually get through the books I bought. Then I started telling people that I don’t read, as I had realised that, and found myself enjoying Joan Didion and Siri Hustvedt. In the mid-life crisis, ones self-image and world maps break down, no longer fitting experience, and I must rebuild my world anew. “Rebuild the world” is my metaphor because from where I’m sitting it looks difficult.

15 thoughts on “Inner dialogue

    • It is part of our being, so should be seen as a given; and our beliefs can change so that the conflict is less intense. I am happy with contradiction, and many people are not. “You’re being inconsistent,” said my friend, as if that was a bad thing.


  1. Clare Flourish, I tend to speak my mind if I judge it necessary. However, I am not one to waste words. Quite honestly, I like open and honest conversations on things. Nobody has to be rude to another person, of course, however, I have no patience for people beating around the bush or feeling that they need to walk on eggshells in the course of a conversation.


    • And yet, commenting here you alternate between commonplace obviousness and tendentiousness. You say nothing for weeks, then pour forth a great profusion of comments. You are welcome to comment here as you wish, yet often you seem to be walking on eggshells.


  2. Clare Flourish, you mentioned in one post that you saw that I was sharing my wisdom and insights, if I recall correctly those being your choice of words, on Flowers For Socrates. There was one guy there who was said to be able to remember everything. I asked the guy, very politely in my humble opinion, if his recall was good enough to remember what he was doing on 9/11/2001. One guy responded asking why I was obsessed about the matter. All I said was that it was pure curiosity. The guy I asked the question of responded by saying that it was none of my business. Obviously, it is not, however, the curiosity was taken out of context. The context being that if he was able to remember everything, the answer could have been a simple yes or no, which would have actually validated the claim of the guy in question having that good of a memory.


  3. Clare Flourish, if someone were to ask you a question of such a personal curiosity even if it was technically none of their business, how would you handle that? Basically telling the person that it was of no concern to them or just answering with what details you believed relevant without volunteering too many details?


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