Knowing yourself

I would never hit anyone.

You may not be very impressed. When someone says I would never hit a woman I am perturbed, as such people might not include me in that. It’s a claim to a minimal moral stance which most people in society would make. Some would make it when it is not true, and more quietly many might imagine a situation where they might hit someone, or think that desirable.

People do not know themselves, and make such statements with an air of complete confidence though they are belied by later circumstance. I read that this may be an evolutionary advantage: we say what will make ourselves look good, even though it is not true, and because we believe it completely we show no visible sign of lying, so are more convincing to others. As so often, evolution shows it is not there to make you feel good. This is just one kind of blind spot which makes my question Who am I really? so fascinating, and frustrating. The point of a blind spot is I don’t know it’s there. I would say “I would never hit someone” with perfect confidence, with no inkling that there was another reality behind it, or anything to go looking for. So I can’t give current examples of such untrue moral claims I make now, because when I realise I stop claiming them.

However, I know I would never hit anyone because I have been in situations where I have been hit or attacked, and not hit back. I know myself because I have observed how I react. Aware how one might make such a statement with unjustified confidence, I make it from experience.

I find it hard to claim virtue for this: pacifism, restraint, civilisation perhaps. I find it easier to acknowledge if I see it as a bad thing- cowardice, or perhaps confusion as the Rules I rely on don’t seem to be working, the framework for my world has broken down and I am bereft. I can see situations where self-defence or defence of another is the virtuous thing to do, and other situations where the ability to defend myself might reduce a threat, and took karate for over a year because of that.

Seeing where I lack self-knowledge, and caring about that, I might have greater self-knowledge than a person who simply makes the moral claim with self-confidence and does not dig any deeper. Then he hits someone, and says “I was provoked!” No, he was not a hypocrite or fibber, that is not what he meant, there was always a qualification in the phrase. I would never hit anyone first; or, unless I obviously ought to. With my conservative background I would feel (rather than rationally calculate) that there would be times where you ought to.

My uncertainty makes me give energy to it, so that I have greater self-knowledge. The qualities you most doubt in yourself may be the ones which you have devoted most time to developing, because you care about them.

What does she think of me?

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This cannot, of course, be known, but there may be indicators.

What do I know of her?
What interactions have we had?
How does she respond to me?

I thought, I cannot imagine that she thinks of me something I cannot think of myself; but I can, if I realise she might think something of me that is not true.

I do not need to believe what she might think of me to be true, and imagining that she thinks it of me nonetheless might help me believe that it might be true.

How many steps from what I may observe and ascertain are we willing to go? Any number, but the further we go, the more speculative it becomes, the less certain I might be.

It is easier to imagine she thinks of me bad things- an irritant, not worth the effort, a project because some people get warm feelings of self-regard from helping others. She wants to see herself as a good person.

Well, I want that for myself. Doesn’t everyone? Stuck between the thoughts of “Oh God, I thought only I was like that” and “Doesn’t everyone?”, I am continually surprised. I feel isolated.

Or I could play lawyers’ games. We do not need to believe something- what is possible, is there any evidence for it? Think outside the box. When I did Myers Briggs it seemed I could express how I wanted to be, what I admired.

If you have enough humility, it may be impossible to humiliate you. This may be a strength, because you cannot be prevented from doing something by the risk of humiliation, or a weakness because you see no need to avoid humiliation. It all depends.

I want safety, but my ways of seeking it make me unsafe. In particular I do not act because I want certainty of success before acting, and have stringent ideals of what success looks like.

What stories do you tell about yourself, and what do they achieve for you?

“I am a victim”.
-So, I am not to blame for my situation.
-So, there is nothing I can do about it.

Blame does me no good, especially self-blame, but it is my habit. Could I let go of it, without seeing myself as a victim?

What stories do you tell others? Would they tell you if they thought them untrue? Would you be able to hear them if they did?

I want to extend my range of possibilities.

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Sense of entitlement

“He had such a sense of entitlement!” she said. How ridiculous. We did not discuss what she meant, but she said something of him, and it seemed to mean that coming from a privileged background he expected his privilege to continue, though he was resentful of the greater privilege of people he knew. She had had to work for everything she has.

I added the phrase to my repertoire of self-examination. There is something wrong with me: I stopped work and like to stay at home. Human interaction troubles me. Part of its use is seeing how I might improve, but a lot of it is self-torturing: this is another way in which I am wrong and inadequate! I am angry with myself.

Self-torture is more effective when there is some truth in it. I was always the privileged child, expected to go to University and get a good job. That thought became mangled with ideas of male privilege: I had been brought up with it. The woman knowing she has to work for everything forges ahead, the- whatever I am- used to having things handed to them is bereft and incapable when things no longer are. That is not a good model of how my life has been.

It’s partly a lack of negative capability, the ability to be in uncertainties. Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. I am unhappy working for something. I imagine all the things that could go wrong. I need to have an understanding. Things should be easy, and I should achieve them immediately, so I am baffled when there are difficulties.

I should achieve them immediately. That is contrary to all experience. It is ridiculous. Life is hard. That it makes no sense to me is another reason why I am unconscious of it; yet when I dredge it out of unconsciousness, it explains a great deal. It fits my actions and feelings, so may be what my attitude really is, however ridiculous it is when stated. I compare myself to the ideal me, which always manages things without effort, and so find myself wanting.

A sense of entitlement might be a problem. You do not do the work you need to do to achieve what you want, because you do not realise that you have to do it, or you resent having to do it so do not do it well, or give up. Or it could be a blessing: you know you are entitled to x, so you claim it, your brass neck overcoming obstacles, your self-confidence giving you the drive to succeed.

I want to be safe, just for the moment. I want not to be stressed, and having still been stressed though not working I want to let go of my instruments of torture, so that I would self-examine not to get me to do anything in particular- tidy my house, look for work- because I ought to do it, but to appreciate myself and to liberate myself, gently let go of this anguished stressed self-judgment and relax. I want to do that so that I might become more effectual; and I have the shadowy thought that this is- staying the wrong side of the Gate of Metanoia. I want to let go of any ulterior motive. Right now my work is self-care, accepting and appreciating myself- just that and nothing else, because I hurt badly.

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