I’ve been thinking about thinking.
I’ve been dialoguing with a new internet friend of mine, and it’s been helping me crystallize some ideas.
Many of my online friends are intelligent and have a very dystopian view of the current world. I get it.
I can totally relate to the dystopian view of our world. I know we sensitive aware ones are buckling under the enormous weight of awareness of the human tragicomedy.
If we are to be effective at all, we need to cultivate enough detachment from the drama so that we can effectively choose the most wise course of action.
I’ve been split between the need to take care of my daughters, their various issues, my husband’s needs, and my needs. I have sensitive, intelligent girls who are struggling to make sense of their environments, and they have me for a mother, who is struggling with many of the bigger issues. And PTSD. And depression.
Depression serves a purpose. Kazmirez Dabrowski talks about periods of positive disintegration. Many of us are depressed. I have another friend who is working on his views of this after a protracted time of intense personal study in the matter. I hope to see his ideas published some day.
This disintegration process is only positive if you successfully navigate this period of major mental restructuring at a higher level. I know this is a de-conditioning process. We need to de-condition from the (as Nathaniel Branden stated in Honoring the Self):
…various forces of our culture – familial, educational, religious, ethical, social-that subvert the evolution of self and self-esteem and foster self-disowning, self-alienation, and destructiveness of life. I propose to demonstrate that not selfishness but absence of self that is the root of most of our evils, that selflessness is our greatest personal, interpersonal, and social danger and has been so throughout most of our history.
Some people either reintegrate at the level they were before because the experience is just too much. A few unlucky souls don’t re-integrate at all and are caught up in madness. Sometimes I feel that will be my fate.
Westerners are taught to fear this process of development. They avoid this process. They distract themselves with food, drink, drugs, sex, shopping. Anything to anesthetize the pain of awareness.
Awareness demands accountability.
We as a culture aren’t taught that we need to cultivate awareness, in part thanks to Edward Bernays and other players in the early 1900s. The masses have more power than they are led to believe. But Edward Bernays used his uncle Freud’s ideas about the unconscious and base impulses to manipulate the masses and keep them down by using advertising.
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
I refused to assimilate. My struggle all along has been because when you don’t assimilate, you stand alone. Being a woman doesn’t help. Many of my ideas are backwards from most mainstream women and I can’t just up and go be an activist while there are children who have big needs of their own.
One person can make a difference, and every little bit does help, and I think, like the butterfly effect, will eventually have an impact. I think that depending on where you look, you can see signs of transformation. It’s slower than we need, but it’s something.
Just one example is in the way neuroscience has started to show in scientific ways the power of meditation to not only heal trauma and shame, but create focus. It’s focus and follow-through that gets things accomplished.
And I’ve always been of the mind that there are people who are idea generators that need to be paired with people with great executive function (I’m talking about the internal executive function inside the brain-the think that makes one stick to a task until it’s finished).
Poor focus and follow-through are why great ideas die before they get implemented. Trauma is a big, big reason why we have poor focus and follow-through.
But I also really believe poor focus and follow-through can be improved with mindfulness and mental force. You have to sit long enough, sift through all the ideas competing for your attention, and prioritize the ones you most want to accomplish and expend the energy to do that.
I’m realizing that’s where I’m at right now. I have some major pruning to do. There’s a part of me that’s been lost in the quagmire of self-pity and fragments of memories both bad and good that sap me of my energy and cause me to focus in the wrong shit.
I have the awareness that is an egregious waste of time and talent. Time I could better spend developing my potentialities.
The way I see it, I’ve languished far too long in this place, and it’s up to me to liberate myself from the self-made and other-reinforced prison of my mind. But I have to choose that. I have to follow through on the commitment to doing so. There’s no need to wait at the threshold…I have the power to walk through that door.
I am not afraid of failure.
I AM afraid of success.
I do not want to lose sight of the three girls I was given. I see their potential. If I’m not careful, I run the risk of doing to them what my mother did to my siblings and I – spend more time in her selfish pursuits and none in training her children in how to develop our abilities and impart a deep sense of self-respect which would keep us making good choices for ourselves (but hadn’t because she didn’t).
I’m determined to learn how to think better than I do, discipline myself and my efforts.
I’ve been in autodidactic mode for years. I’d prefer to learn with a mentor, but I don’t have access to one, so I have to study on my own. So far, I have been scattered in my approach to learning, so I realize I need to find focus.
I know about Edward DeBono’s work on critical thinking.
De Bono is a thinking guru. Not the only one, but one of the early ones. I think he coined the idea of lateral thinking. He teaches people how to think. I got a book of his from the library, and somewhere in my vast collection of books, I have another one of his.
Here’s a common fallacy in education from his “Thinking Course”:
Intelligent people are good thinkers. Implicit in education is the notion that thinking is simply intelligence in action just as traffic is cars in motion.
The fallacy is dangerous for the following two reasons:
1. If you have a high intelligence there is nothing that needs to be done about your thinking.
2. If you have a more humble intelligence there is nothing that can be done about your thinking.
The obvious result is that nothing is done to develop directly the skill of thinking.
I already knew this, partly from my own experiences, partly from reading up about how schools fail our kids. The factory model of education does not work for a vast majority of children.
I like Sir Ken Robinson’s Changing Education Paradigms
The more I learn about myself, the more potential I realize I have that I’m NOT using. I’d been wasting my time in the past…in emotional quicksand of my ‘mistakes’ which are not mistakes but just experiments and explorations and people I get nostalgic for who are no longer in my life.
I waste my energies daydreaming, losing great gobs of time when I could be developing my potentialities (without losing sight of my responsibility to my daughters!!!!). But that requires me learning how to discipline my mind better. I used to have it disciplined. I would not have gotten through college and working in a the medical genetics field had I been like this back then.
I have downloaded 4 booklets from this place:
- How to Study and Learn a Discipline
- The Nature and Functions of Critical and Creative Thinking
- The Thinker’s Guide to Fallacies: The Art Of Mental Trickery
- How to Detect Media Bias and Propaganda (not that I don’t think I know how, I just don’t know what I don’t know).
The reason being is while I think I have some amount of critical thinking skills, I still get stuck. I’m fairly good at detecting flagrant fallacies and biases, not the more subtle ones.
And I have plans to read up more about evolutionary biology and try to figure out where I best can utilize my skills in activism in this world.
I watched a movie last night called Before Sunset, which made this desire more urgent for me.
The clip focuses on the relationship, but the rest of the movie is more about creating a meaningful life and the activism the woman engages in. The dialogue is thought-provoking and inspiring.
Yet I have no idea and my scattered approach is not helping.
And I am starting to think about all of the unconscious processes that do take in the vast information through our senses and categorizes it and yet we do get to decide what we attend to.
So it’s time for me to change that. To become more disciplined in my thinking and my behavior. I think I’m quite excited at the prospect.