Being on a few forums recently under somewhat hostile circumstances has forced me to deal with a few longstanding issues of mine. Nothing deal-breaking as far as who I am, but these are habits I’m working to break and explore their underlying causes to regain and solidify my inner peace. They are interrelated and a lot of them go to my basic human need for acceptance.
(1) I have a need to explain myself. Even writing this is an example of that need. I hate being misunderstood, and find it hard not to defend myself even when doing so will not help the person attacking me or further the conversation.
(2) I have a need to expound knowledge (read: preach). I take pride in my teaching ability, and so like to lay out ideas and facts … or perhaps I have the chiken and the egg reversed. And sometimes it’s more about artful persuation that can overstate a topic.
(3) I have a need to say my piece and often get the last word, but not necessarily in a confrontational way but more often looking for amicable closure. I dislike confrontation, and don’t want to go to bed angry, so to speak.
(4) I desire communication — knowing others and being known in kind — but don’t want the dialogue to end. I do this even on the phone or in a conversation. I want to add what I can and keep a subject going often to the point of tedium, or just find other things to talk about instead of shifting away from the other person(s).
(5) I have a need to be right, or at least convince people of the validity of my position. I don’t mean my opinion is any better than anyone else’s. I don’t mean believing what I want to believe. I mean when I am reasonably sure of what I have objectively determined to be true, I get frustrated with people who don’t get it at all. I don’t mean when they have different opinions or weigh the facts differently, which I can deal with, but people who perform mental acrobatics to deny even the possibility of my view to avoid something they don’t want to believe. I mean those people who assume my bias because of their own (which they can’t see but it’s plain as day to me). Which brings me to …
(6) I need to defend my authority in things I pride myself in, taking offense when people wont respect my opinion. For example, I was formally trained to know the difference between facts and opinions in any argument — a skill I’ve used constantly almost my whole life — and I sometimes feel like the mathematician who can’t convince the cashier that a dime is the same as two nickels, only to have it turn into an emotional debate about the nature of belief, as if all the construed epistemology in the world will change the reality of the situation. So I waste time trying to bring them up to some basic understanding of logic, only insulting them further with such perceived arrogance or condescension. Bottom line: I don’t always take well to criticism in specific areas.
Plan: I’m trying to follow some basic steps, replacing certain ingrained beliefs with others.
(1) It’s not my job to save the world from error. The world will be fine without me and there is the right time and place to help. I don’t know everything, but more importantly, everybody doesn’t need to know what I do know.
(2) It’s not my job to force someone’s mind to open. In fact, sometimes it’s futily counter-productive for all involved. Some people just can’t do it and they will being you down with them.
(3) I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I can’t control or prevent people’s judgments of me. In fact, it is not possible for most people to truly know me for who I am no matter how plain I am about it, and I should just deal with their limited or even inaccurate perceptions as they come.
(4) I need to go in and out of conversations freely with others. I should treat them like food at a buffet at a stand-around party, not a structured sit-down meal where I am the toastmaster.
(5) People are where they are. Everyone has a different capacity for reason and I shouldn’t throw a fast ball to people who can’t catch. It just comes off as abuse. I can accept responsibility for not being able to explain some things to some people, and accept that sometimes it cannot be done. I can let it go. (See #1)
Geez, I sound like a pretentious intellectual prick. But is my strong faith in my own intellect false pride or acute awareness of my ability? Probably the need to prove myself — Maybe I should work on the next level now, where I deal with more directly ego-related issues.
On a side note, I’ve been researching “Avatar” (Star’s Edge) which has self-discovery tools for this sort of thing. But I never worked best with pop-spiritualtiy workbook-type stuff, as cool as it can be. It makes me think or even remember things I want to work on, but in the end, I went back to my own meditative processes I’ve used my whole life, which is giving me better results without all the indoctrination. But that’s just me. I think I process my consciousness too quickly and free-flowing for some structured exercises, though in some cases I can see how it would really be helpful.
Anyway, I’ve bared my sould enough tonight … I’m off to bed.